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Reduce preventable deaths from chronic disease.

Resilient Communities: Vermonters live in safe communities with the capacity to respond to disease, disability, and times of vulnerability

% of all deaths resulting from cancer, lung disease, diabetes, or heart disease


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Story Behind the Curve

Author: Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Date Updated: October 9, 2017

In 2014, the rate of deaths from cancer, lung disease, diabetes and heart disease rose to 57%, up from 53% the year before. There had been a steady decline in this rate since 2007. The rate of deaths from these diseases in the United State in 2014 was 54% and 55% in 2013.

It is unclear at this time what caused this quick rise. The two highest rates of death by disease are heart disease at 23.4% and cancer at 22.5%. “The number of cancer deaths is going up because the population is getting older”, Robert Anderson, PhD, chief of CDC mortality statistics branch said in an article about heart and cancer death rates in 2014. 


See the list of partners on the 3-4-50 webpage.

What Works

According to a recent Journal of American Medical Association study, nearly half of all deaths in the United States in 2012 that were caused by heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, have been linked to substandard eating habits including inadequate consumption of healthy foods and overconsumption of unhealthy foods. Additionally, the CDC says that male and female smokers have a mortality rate that is about three times higher than people who have never smoked. Efforts to make the healthy food choices the easy choice, physical activity accessible to all and lower tobacco use will help decrease the rates of the diseases that cause 57% of deaths in VT. Evidence based strategies can be found in the Guide to Community Preventive Services.


Changing the three health behaviors, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and tobacco use is the key to reducing the rates of chronic disease and ultimately, deaths from chronic disease. 3-4-50 is being rolled out in Vermont communities through the Offices of Local Health (OLH). Staff are meeting with municipalities, schools, worksites and childcare programs to provide ways they can help the people they work with and for make healthier choices. These groups can sign on to 3-4-50, pledging to make changes in their organization to help people make healthier choices. Activities they pledge to do are evidence based and appropriate for an organization that is just starting this work or for one that has already made changes to support healthy behavior.

Why Is This Important?

Knowing that 57% of deaths in Vermont are caused by preventable chronic disease is alarming. We must take action to reduce the rates of unhealthy behavior, chronic diseases and death. This measure will help us to monitor progress.

Notes on Methodology

The Vermont vital statistics system monitors vital events (births, deaths, marriages and civil unions, divorces and dissolutions, etc.). A physician is required to complete and certify the cause of death in the Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS). Mortality is calculated using the ICD-10-CM code for the underlying cause of death listed on the electronic death certificates received by Vital Records. Only Vermont residents are included in these calculations. Proportions of death were calculated by comparing the number of relevant deaths in a given time period to the total number of deaths among Vermont residents for the same time period.

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