The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services implemented the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in 1990 incooperation with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The system gathers information about the health-related lifestyle choices of Alaskan adults related to leading causes of death such as heart disease, cancer and injury. The program is part of an ongoing national data collection system. Results are analyzed each year to improve our understanding of Alaskanhealth habits and to measure progress toward national and state health objectives. This report summarizes survey findings from1991 to 1996 and compares the results to selected national health objectives presented in the Healthy People 2000 publication.
Behavior and lifestyle play an important part in determining ourhealth status and lifespan. Every day Alaskans make lifestyle choices that profoundly affect their health. Although heredity and environment play a part, the leading causes of death in Alaska (heart disease, cancer and unintentional injuries) are closely related to lifestyle factors. Lifestyle and behavioral factors that affect health include such things as diet, exercise, use of alcohol andtobacco, and preventive health practices. Many premature deathsand disabilities could be prevented through better control of thesebehavioral risk factors.