Prevalence of selected risk behaviors and chronic diseases--Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 39 steps communities, United States, 2005

MMWR Surveill Summ. 2008 Oct 31;57(11):1-20.


Problem: Behavioral risk factors (e.g., tobacco use, poor diet, and physical inactivity) can lead to chronic diseases. In 2005, of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States, seven (heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and kidney disease) were attributable to chronic disease. Chronic diseases also adversely affect the quality of life of an estimated 90 million persons in the United States, resulting in illness, disability, extended pain and suffering, and major limitations in daily living.

Reporting period covered: 2005.

Description of the system: CDC's Steps Program funds 40 selected U.S. communities to address six leading causes of death and disability and rising health-care costs in the United States: obesity, diabetes, asthma, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and tobacco use. In 2005, a total of 39 Steps communities conducted a survey to collect adult health outcome data. The survey instrument was a modified version of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey, a community-based, random-digit--dialing telephone survey with a multistage cluster design. The survey instrument collected information on health risk behaviors and preventive health practices among noninstitutionalized adults aged >/=18 years.

Results: Prevalence estimates of risk behaviors and chronic conditions varied among the 39 Steps communities that reported data for 2005. The proportion of the population that achieved Healthy People 2010 (HP 2010) objectives also varied among the communities. The estimated prevalence of obesity (defined as having a body mass index [BMI] of >/=30.0 kg/m(2) as calculated from self-reported weight and height) ranged from 15.6% to 44.0%. No communities reached the HP2010 objective of reducing the proportion of adults who are obese to 15.0%. The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes (excluding gestational diabetes) ranged from 4.3% to 16.6%. Eighteen communities achieved the HP2010 objective to increase the proportion of adults with diabetes who have at least an annual foot examination to 75.0%; five communities achieved the HP2010 objective to increase the proportion of adults with diabetes who have an annual dilated eye examination to 75.0%. The prevalence of reported asthma ranged from 7.0% to 17.6%. Among those who reported having asthma, the prevalence of having no symptoms of asthma during the preceding 30 days ranged from 15.4% to 40.3% for 10 communities with sufficient data for estimates. The prevalence of respondents who engaged in moderate physical activity for >/=30 minutes at least five times a week or who reported vigorous physical activity for >/=20 minutes at least three times a week ranged from 42.0% to 62.2%. The prevalence of consumption of fruits and vegetables at least five times a day ranged from 15.6% to 30.3%. The estimated prevalence among respondents aged >/=18 years who reported having smoked >/=100 cigarettes in their lifetime and who were current smokers on every day or some days at the time of the survey ranged from 11.0% to 39.7%. One community achieved the HP2010 objective to reduce the proportion of adults who smoke to 12.0%. Among smokers, the prevalence of having stopped smoking for >/=1 day as a result of trying to quit smoking during the previous 12 months ranged from 47.8% to 63.3% for 31 communities. No communities reached the HP2010 objective of increasing smoking cessation attempts by adult smokers to 75%.

Interpretation: The findings in this report indicate variations in health risk behaviors, chronic conditions, and use of preventive health screenings and health services. These findings underscore the continued need to evaluate intervention programs at the community level and to design and implement policies to reduce morbidity and mortality caused by chronic disease.

Public health action: Steps BRFSS data can be used to monitor the prevalence of specific health behaviors, diseases, conditions, and use of preventive health services. Steps Program staff at the national, state, local, and tribal levels can use BRFSS data to demonstrate accountability to stakeholders, monitor progress in meeting program objectives, focus programs on activities with the greatest promise of results, identify opportunities for strategic collaboration, and identify and disseminate successes and lessons learned.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Prevention
  • Risk-Taking*
  • United States / epidemiology