Goals missed on obe­sity, food poi­son­ing, de­spite govt push A frank self-as­sess­ment

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

NEW YORK: Progress in the US against obe­sity, food poi­son­ing, and in­fec­tions spread in hos­pi­tals has been un­even and dis­ap­point­ing, de­spite ded­i­cated ef­forts to fight these health threats by the na­tion’s top pub­lic health agency.

The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion is­sued a frank self-as­sess­ment Mon­day of its cam­paign to fo­cus on cer­tain health prob­lems, an ef­fort it called “winnable bat­tles.” While there have been clear suc­cesses in ar­eas like smok­ing and teen preg­nancy, other ar­eas have seen lit­tle change or even got­ten worse.

Par­tic­u­larly dis­ap­point­ing is the bat­tle against child­hood obe­sity, said Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s di­rec­tor. “The data speak for them­selves,” Frieden said of the obe­sity sta­tis­tics. “If you look for the goal we set for our­selves, and look at what hap­pened, we didn’t achieve it.”

Frieden set a list of pri­or­i­ties he called “winnable bat­tles” shortly af­ter he was named to lead the CDC in 2009. The list in­cluded smok­ing, AIDS, obe­sity and nu­tri­tion, teen preg­nancy, auto in­juries and health care in­fec­tions. It later grew to in­clude food poi­son­ing.

On Mon­day, the agency re­leased what it de­scribed as its third and fi­nal re­port card on the cam­paign. Frieden is ex­pected to leave of­fice next month, as the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion takes con­trol of fed­eral agen­cies and ap­points its own ad­min­is­tra­tors.

The most clear-cut progress was in cig­a­rette smok­ing and teen preg­nancy. Last year, na­tional goals were met for re­duc­ing adult smok­ing by more than 17 per­cent, and youth smok­ing by 12 per­cent. The goal of cut­ting the teen birth rate by 20 per­cent was also met.

Crit­ics ar­gued that those were rel­a­tively easy goals - smok­ing and teen preg­nancy rates were al­ready trend­ing down be­fore Frieden ar­rived. But Frieden ar­gued that the goals his agency set were am­bi­tious and never as­sured.

An­other goal once con­sid­ered within easy reach was the re­duc­tion of car crash deaths by 31 per­cent by 2015. Ear­lier in this decade those deaths were plum­met­ing and the goal seemed well within reach. But crash deaths only fell 21 per­cent be­cause of a re­cent uptick, which many at­tribute to dis­tracted driv­ing.

The re­port card also found:

Dis­ap­point­ing re­sults in meet­ing two food safety goals. Rates of ill­ness from harm­ful E. coli bac­te­ria dropped, but didn’t reach the goal of a 29 per­cent re­duc­tion goal. And ill­ness rates from sal­mo­nella in­creased. Mixed progress on cut­ting down in­fec­tions spread in hos­pi­tals and med­i­cal clin­ics. Three kinds of in­fec­tions de­clined. They haven’t yet hit tar­get lev­els, but there’s some hope they will when more data are avail­able. And rates for cer­tain uri­nary tract in­fec­tions didn’t fall at all.

In­abil­ity re­duce the num­ber of new HIV cases by 25 per­cent. The num­ber of new cases fell by 18 per­cent. Fail­ure to re­duce obe­sity rates for tod­dlers and older chil­dren. In­stead, the rate grew slightly, to more than 17 per­cent. De­spite the mixed grades in the CDC’s re­port card on it­self, some ex­perts ap­plauded CDC ef­forts, say­ing the agency had only lim­ited abil­i­ties to pre­vent ill­ness or stop peo­ple from do­ing things that hurt their own health. “I think, to CDC’s credit, they picked a broad range of pub­lic health chal­lenges and they set the bar high enough that they could not au­to­mat­i­cally de­clare suc­cess at the end of an ad­min­is­tra­tion,” said Jeff Levi, a Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor of health man­age­ment and pol­icy.

The At­lanta-based CDC has an an­nual bud­get of more than $13 bil­lion and a staff of more than 15,000. Much of its fund­ing is distributed to state and lo­cal health de­part­ments, and many of them fol­low the CDC’s agenda-set­ting lead.

—AP

AT­LANTA: In this Thurs­day, Nov 10, 2016 photo, CDC work­ers look through mi­cro­scopes at as an im­age of a skin biopsy is dis­played on a screen at the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

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