Lifestyle Risk Factors

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Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. When examining chronic diseases and their potential connection to the environment, it is important to consider lifestyle risk factors that could play a role in their development. Four personal behaviors that can affect chronic diseases are: lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol use.

We Track That

Lifestyle risk factor data on the Tracking Network can be used by public health professionals to determine if certain health outcomes are related to the environment or if they could also be due to lifestyle risk factors such as smoking and lack of physical activity. The data can also be used by public health officials to determine the best public health actions to reduce modifiable lifestyle risk factors in their communities.

Types of Data

The lifestyle risk factor data available on the Tracking Network include the following.

Prevalence of Smoking
This indicator estimates the percentage of adults who smoke by state. The data are collected from CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. These data can be used to identify current smokers, ever smokers, and former smokers by state and demographic factors, such as age, gender, and race/ethnicity. These data is available at the state level.

Physical Activity – 500 Cities
The primary data sources are the CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the Census 2010 population, and the American Community Survey estimates. The data shows crude rate of physical activity for specific cities or neighborhoods within cities.

Mortality from Heart Attack and Ischemic Heart Disease
These indicators used data collected by vital records from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. Data can be used to identify trends in the mortality of ischemic heart disease or heart attacks. The variables include time periods, age groups, sex, race/ethnicity, and geographic areas such as states and counties. Data are available at the county level for the entire U.S.

Data Highlight
Icons representing people with 7 out of 10 colored green

Each year, chronic diseases cause 7 of 10 deaths among Americans. Heart disease, cancer, and stroke account for more than 50% of all deaths each year.

Data in Action

These data can be used to:

  • Identify environmental relationships that warrant further investigation or environmental public health action
  • Formulate planning and evaluating efforts to reduce health burden
  • Show differences of prevalence between geographic areas
  • Highlight populations in need of targeted interventions

Read these success stories to learn about lifestyle risk factors related work happening in our funded Tracking Programs.

Minnesota | Oregon

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Tracking Resources

Explore Lifestyle Risk Factors Data
Data Explorer
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Create custom data visualizations, save, & share results

Quick Reports
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View data in simple charts

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Access machine-readable data

Page last reviewed: October 21, 2020