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More Americans Obese, Diabetic, New CDC Report Says

Allison Inserro
New health statistics from the US government paint a picture of a population that is more obese and more prone to diabetes than it was 20 years ago. On the bright side, however, more people have health insurance.
New health statistics from the US government paint a picture of a population that is more obese and more prone to diabetes than it was 20 years ago. On the bright side, however, more people have health insurance and cigarette smoking dropped. The early release of January to September 2017 data from the National Health Interview Survey, including estimates from 1997 to 2016, was published Thursday. What follows is a sampling from a few of the 15 indicators:

Obesity

The prevalence of obesity among US adults 20 years and older increased from 19.4% in 1997 to 31.4% in the latest report. Looking at just January to September of last year, adults aged 40 to 59 years of both sexes were the most likely to be obese (36.6%), but women were more likely to be obese if they were in the age range of 20 to 39 years (28.7% vs 24.5% for men).

Black women were most likely to be obese (48.9%) compared with Hispanic women (34.2%) and white women (29.4%). There was no significant difference in the prevalence of obesity by race and ethnicity groups among men.

Diabetes

Diabetes, which is known to be linked to obesity, also increased. The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes among adults 18 years and older increased from 5.1% in 1997 to 9.2% in 2010, and then more slowly from 2010 through January to September 2017.

The age- and sex-adjusted prevalence of diagnosed diabetes was 12.9% for Hispanic adults, 7.0% for white adults, and 10.9% for black adults. The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes was lower among white adults compared with Hispanic and black adults. The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes among black adults was not significantly different from Hispanic adults.

Exercise

A little more than half (53.8%) of adults 18 years and older meet the 2008 federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic activity, but women are less likely than men to meet those guidelines in every adult age group.

Insurance

In January to September 2017, the percentage of persons uninsured was 9%, the same as 2016. In 2010, the percentage of persons uninsured was 16%. For children younger than 18 years, the uninsured percentage generally decreased from 13.9% in 1997 to 4.9% in the latest report.

Failure to Obtain Needed Medical Care Due to Cost

For January to September 2017, 4.4% of the population failed to obtain needed medical care due to cost at some time during the past 12 months, the same as the 2016 estimate. At its highest, the percentage was 6.9% in both 2009 and 2010.

However, women of all ages were more likely than men to have failed to obtain needed medical care due to cost during the past 12 months. The same was true for blacks and Hispanics.

Influenza Vaccination

For both sexes combined, the percentage of those who received an influenza vaccination during the past 12 months was highest among persons 65 years and older (69.8%) and lowest among persons aged 18 to 49 years (34.2%). This pattern held true for both sexes.

For persons aged 6 months and older and for adults aged 18 to 49 and 50 to 64 years, women were more likely than men to have received a flu shot during the past 12 months.

White adults were more likely to have received an influenza vaccination than black and Hispanic adults. In addition, white adults were more likely to have ever received a pneumococcal vaccination than black and Hispanic adults.

Smoking

Cigarette smoking among US adults fell from 24.7% in 1997 to 14.1% in January to September 2017. On Thursday, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, announced a move to lower nicotine in combustible cigarettes to minimally or non-addictive levels. 

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