For each of the last three decades, the federal government has issued a litany of goals for improving Americans' health -- a sort of decadal list of resolutions to guide government programs, mobilize public health workers and the medical community, and remind Americans where we need to step up our efforts to get healthier.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which issues the "Healthy People" reports, calls them the "master plan" for boosting the nation's health. But if their lofty objectives are meant to be reached, master plans need to have concrete objectives, to set priorities, and to ensure there are means in place to measure progress.
So, they call in the National Academies of Science's Institute of Medicine to do that. The resulting IOM report, released Tuesday, issued 24 objectives that "warrant priority attention in the plan's implementation."
Many of this decade's priority objectives clearly verge into hotly political territory, particularly in the midst of a partisan tug-of-war over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law last March. Others lead directly to more intimately familiar places, such as our beds (reduce the number of Americans who don't get enough sleep), our refrigerators (reduce consumption of calories from solid fats and added sugars) and our minds (reduce the proportion of people who experience major depressive episodes).
Here's the list: