This week, the Health and Human Services Department (HSS) released its updated Leading Health Indicators (LHI), a list of metrics used to evaluate the Nation’s health (and encourage people to improve their own)! Measurements on the list include the big stuff (aiming for 100% citizen access to medical care) to goals a little closer to Greatist’s heart, like increasing veggie intake and upping physical activity and muscle strength.

The list comes out every ten years and, this time around, it has stirred things up a bit. Oral health made an appearance for the first time, with the explanation that taking proper care of those pearly whites could help reduce the risk of chronic problems like heart disease and stroke. And for the Reproductive and Sexual Health topic, abstinence, which was a measurement in last decade’s list, is noticeably absent.

And it’s not just about medical care, either. Many categories focus on social determinants and their relation to health, including education, income, and race. Speaking to the importance of addressing influences outside of the traditional-health-box to improve the Nation's wellbeing, the team noted: “Many factors impact our health, ranging from where we live, work, go to school, etc., and each of these domains influences and are sometimes determined by our socioeconomic status (e.g., education and income level).”

To amp up LHI’s value, the HSS also released new standards to measure social status (like ethnicity and sex) in health surveys. They hope these changes will help create better recognition of health disparities in the U.S., leading to more efficient solutions.

Interested to learn more? Take a pit-stop at the Nutrition and Physical Activity section of the LHI, which stresses that a healthful diet, plenty of physical activity, and a healthy body weight are key to improving the wellness of all Americans. Be sure to check out the whole list, too, to see what’s in store for the next decade to improve health across the country!

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