Surveillance for Certain Health Behaviors Among Selected Local areas--United States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2002

MMWR Surveill Summ. 2004 Jul 23;53(5):1-100.


Problem: Monitoring risk behaviors for chronic diseases and participation in preventive practices are important for developing effective health education and intervention programs to prevent morbidity and mortality. Therefore, continual monitoring of these behaviors and practices at the state, city, and county levels can assist public health programs in evaluating and monitoring progress toward improving their community's health.

Reporting period covered: Data collected in 2002 are presented for states, selected metropolitan, and micropolitan statistical areas (MMSA), and their counties.

Description of the system: The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is an on-going, state-based, telephone survey of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population aged >18 years. All 50 states, the District of Columbia (DC), Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico participated in BRFSS during 2002. Metropolitan and MMSA and their counties with >500 respondents or a minimum sample size of 19 per weighting class were included in the analyses for a total of 98 MMSA and 146 counties.

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, county, and MMSA. Obesity ranged from 27.6% in West Virginia, 29.4% in Charleston, West Virginia, and 32.0% in Florence County, South Carolina, to 16.5% in Colorado, 12.8% in Bethesda-Frederick-Gaithersburg, Maryland, and 11.8% in Washington County, Rhode Island. No leisuretime physical activity ranged from 33.6% in Tennessee, 36.8% in Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Florida, and 36.8% in Miami-Dade County, Florida to 15.0% in Washington, 13.8% in Seattle-Bellevue-Everett Washington, and 11.4% in King County, Washington. Cigarette smoking ranged from 32.6% in Kentucky, 32.8% in Youngstown-Warren- Boardman, Ohio-Pennsylvania, and 31.1% in Jefferson County, Kentucky to 16.4% in California, 13.8% in Ogden- Clearfield, Utah, and 10.9% in Davis County, Utah. Binge drinking ranged from 24.9% in Wisconsin, 26.1% in Fargo, North Dakota-Minnesota, and 25.1% Cass County, North Dakota, to 7.9% in Kentucky, 8.2% in Greensboro- High Point, North Carolina, and 6.6% in Henderson County, North Carolina. At risk for heavy drinking ranged from 8.7% in Arizona, 9.5% in Lebanon, New Hampshire-Vermont, and 11.3% in Richland County, South Carolina, to 2.8% in Utah, 1.9% in Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, and 1.7% in King County, New York. Adults who were told they had diabetes ranged from 10.2% in West Virginia, 11.1% in Charleston, West Virginia, and 11.1% in Richland, South Carolina, to 3.5% in Alaska, 2.7% in Anchorage, Alaska, and 2.4% in Weber County, Utah. Percentage of adults aged>50 years who were ever screened for colorectal cancer ranged from 64.8% in Minnesota, 67.9% in Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Minnesota-Wisconsin, and 73.6% in Ramsey County, Minnesota, to 39.2% in Hawaii, 30.7% in Kahului-Wailuku, Hawaii, and 30.7% in Maui County, Hawaii. Persons aged >65 years who had received pneumococcal vaccine ranged from 72.5% in North Dakota, 74.8% in Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin, and 73.1% in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, to 47.9% in DC, 47.5% in New York-Wayne-White Plains, New York, New Jersey, and 47.9% in DC County, DC. Older adults who had received influenza vaccine ranged from 76.6% in Minnesota, 80.0% in Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin, and 76.3% in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, to 57.0% in Florida, 55.8% in Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land, Texas, and 56.2% in Cook County, Illinois.

Interpretation: BRFSS data indicate substantial variation in high-risk behaviors, participation in preventive healthcare services, and screening among U.S. adults at states and selected local areas, indicating a need for continued efforts to evaluate public health programs or policies designed to reduce morbidity and mortality.

Public health actions: Data from BRFSS are useful in developing and guiding public health programs and policies. Therefore, states, selected MMSA, and their counties can use BRFSS data as a tool to prevent premature morbidity and mortality among adult population and to assess progress toward national health objectives. The data indicate a continued need to develop and implement health promotion programs for targeting specific behaviors and practices and serve as a baseline for future surveillance at the local level in the United States.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control
  • Ethanol / poisoning
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Physical Fitness
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data


  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines
  • Ethanol