During the past century, public health has faced numerous challenges
and has made much progress. Childhood immunizations, antibiotics, fortified
foods, and clean water are just a few of the public health advances of the
20th century that have extended life expectancy from 45 years at the turn
of the century to more than 75 years today. In fact, for the first time, this
year's census forms offer a 3-digit space for entering one's age—an
accommodation to the approximately 70,000 centenarians living in the United
States.1 Moreover, knowledge and attitudes
about healthy behaviors also have contributed to improved longevity and quality
of life, such as knowledge of the hazards of smoking, the value of personal
and food hygiene, and the concept that injuries in the workplace, at home,
or on the roads can be prevented.
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