The blog of the Urban Institute
October 26, 2012

Chronic Diseases: Expensive and Preventable

October 26, 2012

Urban Institute researchers estimate that roughly one-third of health spending in the United States is attributable to chronic conditions like hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and renal disease. The bad news: these ailments are getting more and more prevalent. The good news: research suggests that they respond well to lifestyle changes.

As our latest MetroTrends commentary describes, this means that metro areas hit hard by chronic diseases have the greatest potential to achieve cost savings, not to mention improvements in overall quality of life. Interventions encouraging people to exercise, eat a healthy diet, and quit smoking have shown promise in reducing the prevalence of these chronic diseases—but where should prevention resources be targeted?

The interactive map below shows which big metros have relatively healthy populations and which have higher rates of chronic diseases and risk factors for those diseases. Read the full commentary for the whole story, downloadable data, and more figures.


As an organization, the Urban Institute does not take positions on issues. Experts are independent and empowered to share their evidence-based views and recommendations shaped by research.