Health Behaviors

Diet, sexual activity, and usage of prescription drugs and narcotics are critical determinants of health. Individuals that eat healthy foods, engage in responsible sexual  behaviors, and refrain from the misuse or abuse of  drugs and alcohol experience lower incidences of certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Healthy behaviors at the individual level also create corollary societal benefits; decreased smoking rates, substance abuse, and consumption of unhealthy foods can significantly lower the direct costs related to chronic disease treatment and reduce the insurance costs indirectly attributed to unhealthy lifestyles.

Prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. With partners like the NYPD and NIDA and with financial support from Vin Gupta, the Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI) will address the epidemic of prescription drug abuse throughout the United States through a multi-faceted strategy.

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There’s been a dramatic up-tick – triple the number from four years ago – in the number of college-age kids showing up in the nation’s emergency rooms for overdoses on pain pills.

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Through their Clinton Health Matters Initiative Commitment to Action, the NYPD will address the problem of drug abuse from the position of enforcement, deterrence, and education. 

Read the blog post.

Our Work on Health Behaviors

Studies have shown that eating more fruits and vegetables can help reduce some types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension, as well as maintain a healthy weight. However, the vast majority of American men, women, and children do not eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “F as in Fat” report, by 2030 medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion in the United States. States could prevent obesity-related diseases and dramatically reduce health care costs if they reduced the average body mass index of their residents by just 5 percent by 2030.[1]

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are associated with an increased risk of morbidity and mortality, including higher risks of cervical cancer, involuntary infertility, and premature death. Additionally, pregnant teens are more likely than older women to receive late or no prenatal care, have gestational hypertension and anemia, and have a pre-term delivery and low birth weight, thereby increasing the risk of child developmental delay, illness, and mortality. The promotion of safe sexual practices and routine sexual health screenings is crucial to ensure disease prevention and better health outcomes among children and adults.

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in prescription drug misuse or abuse. This increase has led to a corresponding rise in visits to the emergency room because of accidental overdoses and admissions to drug treatment programs for drug addictions. Despite a sizeable effort to decrease smoking usage, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Excessive drinking, defined as either binge drinking or heavy drinking, is also a risk factor for a number of adverse health outcomes such as alcohol poisoning, hypertension, and sexually transmitted infection, in addition to several others.

High levels of violent crime compromise physical safety and psychological well-being, in addition to deterring residents from pursuing healthy behaviors such as exercising outdoors. While motor vehicle travel has provided an unprecedented degree of mobility in the United States, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for ages 4 and 11 through 27 (based on 2009 data).[2] The health impacts of community safety are far-reaching, affecting various health factors and outcomes, including psychological distress, birth weight, diet and exercise, and family and social support.