Surveillance for certain health behaviors among states and selected local areas—Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 2003

Ruth Jiles, Elizabeth Hughes, Wilmon Murphy, Nicole Flowers, Melissa McCracken, Henry Roberts, Margaret Ochner, Lina Balluz, Ali Mokdad, Laurie Elam-Evans, Wayne Giles
MMWR Surveillance Summaries 2005 December 2, 54 (8): 1-116

PROBLEM: Data on health risk behaviors (e.g., cigarette smoking, binge drinking, and physical inactivity) for chronic diseases and use of preventive practices (e.g., influenza and pneumococcal vaccination for adults aged > or =65 years and cholesterol screening) are essential for developing effective health education and intervention programs and policies to prevent morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases. Continuous monitoring of these behaviors and practices at the state, city, and county levels can help public health programs in evaluating progress toward improving their community's health.

REPORTING PERIOD COVERED: Data collected in 2003 are presented for states, selected metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas (MMSAs), and their counties.

DESCRIPTION OF THE SYSTEM: The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is an ongoing, state-based, random-digit-dialed telephone survey of the civilian, noninstitutionalized U.S. population aged > or =18 years. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands participated in BRFSS during 2003. Within these states and territories, 105 MMSAs and 153 counties that reported data for at least 500 respondents or a minimum sample size of 19 per weighting class were included in the analyses.

RESULTS: Prevalence of high-risk behaviors for chronic diseases, awareness of certain medical conditions, and use of preventive health-care services varied substantially by state/territory, MMSA, and county. The proportion of the population that achieved Healthy People 2010 (HP 2010) objectives also varied by state/territory, MMSA, and county. Twelve states, 39 MMSAs, and 65 counties achieved the HP 2010 objective to reduce the proportion of adults who engage in no leisure-time physical activity to 20%. Twenty states, 41 MMSAs, and 63 counties achieved the HP 2010 goal of 50% of adults engaging in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day. The HP 2010 goal of 30% of adults who engage in vigorous physical activity was achieved by 17 states, 33 MMSAs, and 57 counties. Two states, one MMSA, and one county achieved the HP 2010 current cigarette smoking goal of 12% prevalence. One county achieved the HP 2010 binge drinking goal of 6% prevalence among adults. One MMSA and eight counties achieved the HP 2010 goal of 15% for obesity prevalence. The HP 2010 goal for influenza and pneumococcal vaccination coverage of 90% was not achieved by any state, MMSA, or county. No state, MMSA, or county achieved the HP 2010 objective of 17% prevalence of high cholesterol among adults.

INTERPRETATION: The findings in this report indicate substantial variation in health risk behaviors and use of preventative services among adults at state and local levels, indicating a need for appropriate public health interventions and continued efforts to evaluate public health programs and policies and health-care-related efforts designed to reduce morbidity and mortality.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION: Data from BRFSS are useful for assessing national health objectives, for identifying and characterizing at risk populations, and for designing and evaluating health promotion and disease prevention programs and policies. The 2003 BRFSS data indicate a continued need to develop and implement health promotion programs for targeting specific behaviors and practices and provides information for measuring progress towards achieving disease prevention and health promotion goals at state and local levels.

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