Prevalence of Major Chronic Behavioral Health Problems

  • Large segments of the U.S. adult population have health problems with a behavioral origin or potential for control. Hypertension is prevalent among more than 20 percent of the adult population, slightly greater than the number of persons experiencing threats to their health due to sedentary lifestyle and obesity, respectively. Heart disease and diabetes affect about 15 to 20 million persons.
  • Alcoholism and drug addiction are experienced by about 14 and 7 million persons annually. For alcohol, on the order of 15 percent of the roughly 90 million current drinkers have problems with dependence or abuse. For drugs it appears that up to half of current users (which is somewhat over 11 million) may meet clinical criteria for abuse or dependence.
  • Source: National Institutes of Health (1997). Disease-Specific Estimates of Direct and Indirect Costs of Illness and NIH Update. Department of Health and Human Services.