IOM creates benchmarks to track Americans’ health

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Medicine Iom

A new report issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) provides a range of indicators that will be used as yardsticks to track progress in improving the health of Americans.

The information will be used on a new website that will serve as a publically-available tool for measuring and monitoring the nation on a number of fronts, such as health, education and environment.

The website is being prepared by the nonprofit group State of the USA (SUSA), which asked IOM to recommend 20 indicators of health for use on the site’s health section.

Analysis and comparison

"This report takes an important step of capturing the health of the American people with a few key indicators,"​ said George Isham, chair of the IOM committee that prepared the report, and also medical director and chief health officer at HealthPartners Inc.

"Given the gap between the relatively low performance and high costs of our health care system, data that is readily accessible on the Internet will be of great value in devising strategies to close this gap. We believe this set of measures, as deployed by the State of the USA project, can help move the nation toward better health."

The indicators selected by IOM are designed to provide a broad picture of Americans’ health and the nation’s health systems. They reflect a range of factors that determine well-being, and are backed by “substantial”,“high-quality”​ data.

IOM said reputable organizations are generating new data on each of these markers annually, providing a reliable means to track changes over time.

“The data can be sorted by population subgroups or geographic region, allowing detailed analyses and comparisons. For example, one could use the data to compare current rates of obesity in different race and ethnic groups or to track whether the national obesity rate goes up or down over the next five years,”​ it said.

Nutrition, obesity and disease

The indicators selected include nutrition, obesity, physical activity and chronic disease prevalence.

‘Nutrition’ is to be measured by the percent of adults eating a good diet as indicated by a score of 80 or more on the Healthy Eating Index. ‘Obesity’ is the percent of adults with a body mass index of 30 or more.

‘Chronic disease prevalence’ is the percent of adults reporting one or more of six chronic diseases: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cancer, and arthritis.

‘Physical activity’ is the percent of adults meeting the recommendations for “moderate” physical activity (30 minutes of moderate intensity activity at least five days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous intensity activity at least three days per week).

To access the full report, click here​.

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