CDC Releases Report Detailing Progress of Winnable Battles

The CDC has released a report detailing the successes and challenges of the Winnable Battles initiative, a program intended to drive improvements in the prevention of injury, illness, disability, and death in the United States. The report provides a detailed picture of goals for 2015 and the progress the CDC has made in meeting those goals.

The seven areas chosen by the CDC were selected according to the pervasiveness of the health problems and the feasibility of improving outcomes. The CDC has determined “ambitious yet achievable” targets and has worked in collaboration with public health partners at the national, state, and local levels to reach the targets in its chosen areas.


The CDC’s main goals in this area are to decrease the percentage of adults who smoke cigarettes, to decrease the percent of youth who smoke cigarettes, and to increase the proportion of the population covered by smoke-free laws. While three million fewer adults smoke compared to 2005, there has been a slower yet steady decline among middle- and high-school students who use tobacco. The number of states with 100 percent smoke-free laws for workplaces is 27, and the 26 million Americans without statewide protection live in communities with smoke-free laws.

Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

The CDC aims to lower the prevalence of obesity among youth aged two to 19 and to improve the health of all Americans by tackling such goals as improving the food environments, reducing consumption of calories from added sugars, and reducing sodium in the food supply. Based on the progress report, obesity continues to be a serious health problem in the U.S. Children, however, are experiencing benefits from healthier environments, such as schools offering daily physical education. The number of schools that prohibit junk food in vending machines has climbed from 29.8 percent in 2006 to 43.4 percent in 2012.

Food Safety

The CDC’s main goals of reducing confirmed infections by Salmonella and E. coli is not on track to reach its target. However, faster and more effective investigations have led to identification of disease outbreaks and resulting product recalls. A significant return on investment has been demonstrated, with the prevention of one fatal E. coli case saving an estimated $7 million. Further, identification of produce as the most frequent cause of foodborne illness—and of meat and poultry as the major source of food-related death—has helped regulatory agencies to focus their prevention resources.

Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs)

The CDC has made much progress in the area of HAIs. CDC data systems, guidelines, and programs have helped reduce HAIs significantly, saving up to 5,000 lives and health care costs of approximately $38 million. Within the CDC’s Dialysis Bloodstream Infections (BSI) Prevention Collaborative, there has been a 31 percent reduction in BSIs.

Motor Vehicle Safety

The CDC is on target to reach its goal in decreasing the rate of motor-vehicle related fatalities, with deaths reaching historic lows. Initiatives to increase seat belt, child safety seat, and booster seat use have increased, with thirty-three states putting seat belt laws into place. Injuries resulting from drunk driving have decreased, with 19 states requiring ignition interlock systems for convicted drunk driving offenders.

Teen Pregnancy

On track to meet its goal of reducing teen pregnancies by 20 percent, the CDC has seen teen birth rates drop to a record low. Teens who are sexually active also appear to utilize effective methods of contraception to a higher extent than in previous years.


The CDC has adopted a high-impact prevention approach for identifying and implementing prevention and treatment efforts that are both cost-effective and scalable to the “geographic and demographic burden of HIV infection.” The CDC is not on track to reduce by 25 percent the number of new HIV infections by 2015. However, it is on track to reach its goal of increasing the number of people who know their HIV status by 11 percent.