Healthy People in Healthy Communities:
A Community Planning Guide Using Healthy People 2010

I. Is Yours a Healthy Community?

Are the people in your community as healthy and safe as they could be? If not, would you like to change that? This guide can help you make positive changes in your community, whether you are a physician, government official, business owner, truck driver, store clerk, retired person, or almost anybody else.image of house

Indeed, this guide can help you:  
  • Learn how to build and run a healthy community coalition;
  • Find information about your community on many health problems, such as drug abuse, teen pregnancy, depression, and infectious disease; and
  • Use Healthy People 2010 to improve the quality of life of the people in your community.
But, first, take a moment to congratulate yourself. Because deciding to make this kind of change is an important first step to making your community a healthier and happier place in which to live, work, and play. And because YOU can make a difference!

What Is a Healthy Community?

A healthy community is one that embraces the belief that health is more than merely an absence of disease; a healthy community includes those elements that enable people to maintain a high quality of life and productivity. For example:

    Goal I: Increase Quality and Years of Healthy Life

    Healthy People 2010 seeks to increase life expectancy and quality of life by helping individuals gain the knowledge, motivation, and opportunities they need to make informed decisions about their health. At the same time, Healthy People 2010 encourages local and State leaders to develop communitywide and statewide efforts that promote healthy behaviors, create healthy environments, and increase access to high-quality health care. Given the fact that individual and community health are often inseparable, it is critical that both the individual and the community do their parts to increase life expectancy and improve quality of life.

    Healthy People 2010: Understanding and Improving Health, 2nd Edition, November 2000.

  • A healthy community offers access to health care services that focus on both treatment and prevention for all members of the community.
  • A healthy community is safe.
  • A healthy community has roads, schools, playgrounds, and other services to meet the needs of the people in that community. (These items are often referred to as "infrastructure.")
  • A healthy community has a healthy and safe environment. 

What Is Healthy People 2010?

One tool to help a community create a dynamic vision for its future is Healthy People 2010. Healthy People 2010 is a comprehensive set of health objectives to be achieved over the first decade of the century. It is designed to serve as a roadmap for improving the health of all people in the United States. It includes national health promotion and disease prevention goals, objectives, and measures that can help serve as a model for you to develop your own goals and objectives to improve the health of everyone in your community.

Healthy People 2010 was developed by citizens from throughout the Nation, in a multiyear process that was coordinated by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). For two decades, HHS has used Healthy People objectives to improve the health of the American people. Healthy People 2010 is the third set of health promotion and disease prevention objectives for the Nation.
Goal II: Eliminate Health Disparities
Healthy People 2010 recognizes that communities, States, and national organizations will need to take a multidisciplinary approach to achieve health equity--an approach that involves improving health, education, housing, labor, justice, transportation, agriculture, and the environment, as well as data collection itself. However, the greatest opportunities for reducing health disparities are in promoting communitywide safety, education, and access to health care, and in empowering individuals to make informed health care decisions. 

Healthy People 2010 is firmly dedicated to the principle that--regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity, income, education, geographic location, disability, or sexual orientation--every person in every community across the Nation deserves equal access to comprehensive, culturally competent, community-based health care systems that are committed to serving the needs of the individual and promoting community health.

Healthy People 2010: Understanding and Improving Health, 2nd Edition, November 2000.

Healthy People 2010 is designed to achieve two overarching goals: (1) to increase the quality and years of healthy life and (2) to eliminate health disparities. (A health disparity is a gap in the health status of different groups of people, in which one group is healthier than the other group or groups.) These two goals are supported by 467 objectives in 28 focus areas. For details, see

Healthy People 2010 also identifies a smaller set of health priorities that reflect 10 major public health concerns in the United States. These 10 topics highlight individual behaviors, physical and social environmental factors, and important health system issues that greatly affect the health of individuals and communities. Examined together, they constitute a set of "Leading Health Indicators" that provides a snapshot of the health of the Nation and serves to provide guidance and focus for the public, media, and elected officials.
A health disparity is an inequality or gap that exists between two or more groups. Health disparities are believed to be the result of the complex interaction of personal, societal, and environmental factors.


In a Snapshot...
Healthy People 2010 identifies a set of health priorities that reflect 10 major public health concerns in the United States. These 10 Leading Health Indicators are intended to help everyone more easily understand the importance of health promotion and disease prevention. Motivating individuals to act on just one of the indicators can have a profound effect on increasing the quality and years of healthy life and on eliminating health disparities--for the individual, as well as the community overall.
Subject/Topic Public Health Challenge
Physical Activity Promote regular physical activity. 
Overweight and Obesity Promote healthier weight and good nutrition.
Tobacco Use Prevent and reduce tobacco use.
Substance Abuse  Prevent and reduce substance abuse.
Responsible Sexual Behavior Promote responsible sexual behavior.
Mental Health Promote mental health and well-being.
Injury and Violence Promote safety and reduce violence.
Environmental Quality Promote healthy environments.
Immunization Prevent infectious disease through immunization.
Access to Health Care Increase access to quality health care.
For more on the Leading Health Indicators, go to

You can select from one or more chapters in Healthy People 2010 or use the Leading Health Indicators to help share your own visions of where you want your community to be in the future. These broad visions can help shape your efforts to improve the health of your community.

You can use a variety of techniques, documents, and other resources to help you make a healthy community. This guide will briefly describe some easy-to-understand approaches that can help you get started or help you improve what you have already started.

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Healthy People 2010: 28 Focus Areas
1. Access to Quality Health Services 15. Injury and Violence Prevention
2. Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and Chronic Back Conditions 16. Maternal, Infant, and Child Health
3. Cancer 17. Medical Product Safety
4. Chronic Kidney Disease 18. Mental Health and Mental Disorders
5. Diabetes  19. Nutrition and Overweight
6. Disability and Secondary Conditions 20. Occupational Safety and Health
7. Educational and Community-Based Programs 21. Oral Health
8. Environmental Health 22. Physical Activity and Fitness
9. Family Planning 23. Public Health Infrastructure
10. Food Safety  24. Respiratory Diseases
11. Health Communication 25. Sexually Transmitted Diseases
12. Heart Disease and Stroke 26. Substance Abuse
13. HIV 27. Tobacco Use
14. Immunization and Infectious Diseases 28. Vision and Hearing

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