The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released its report on the state of American health. The report is filled with both good and bad trends that will shape the future of American health.
The CDC has released its findings from their 2011 National Health Interview Survey. The survey is quite optimistic with some steady improvements that are greatly affecting the health of Americans. For starters, Americans are exercising more and in general taking better care of themselves. On the other hand, more Americans are obese and diabetes is affecting large numbers of older Americans. This continued obesity epidemic is truly concerning because of how it increases the risk of other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes while also increasing the risk of early death.
Before we get to the obesity epidemic that is affecting Americans, there are many positive trends that will affect the future health of Americans. As a nation, Americans are smoking less and drinking less. Smoking rates are declining, with 18.9 percent of Americans over the age of 18 labeling themselves as current smokers. This general decline in smoking has been occurring since 1997, when 24.7 percent of American adults were current smokers compared to 18.9 percent in 2011, a 5.8 percent decrease.
Public health efforts, increased cost of cigarettes, laws banning smoking in public places, bars and restaurants as well as ad campaigns against smoking have all had some effect in this decrease of smoking in Americans.
The number of Americans who had five or more alcoholic drinks had been increasing since 2004 but 2011 put a stop on the trend. In 2010, 22.7 percent of Americans had five or more alcoholic drinks in one day whereas in 2011, that number decreased slightly to 22.1 percent. That number is still not as low as 2004's numbers where only 19.1 percent of Americans had five or more alcoholic drinks in one day.
More Americans are exercising in 2011 than in other year of the survey according to the CDC. In 2011, around 48.4 percent of Americans met the federal guidelines for physical activity. That number is a 1.5 percent increase over 2010's number, 46.9 percent, and continues the positive trend in exercise since 2005.
Unfortunately the CDC report also shows some negative trends for American health. Obesity has increased in Americans over the age of 20 since 1997. In 2011, 28.7 Americans were obese, a slight increase from 2010's (28.4 percent) number. In 1997, obesity was reported in 19.4 percent of Americans. Poor diets and large food portion sizes, sugary drinks and lack of exercise are some contributors to the obesity problem in America.
Diabetes is affecting more elderly Americans than any other age group. Nearly 20 percent of Americans, aged 65 and older, were diagnosed with diabetes compared to a little over 15 percent for Americans between the ages of 55 and 64, around 10 percent for Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 and just over two percent for Americans between the ages of 18 and 44. The overall rate of diabetes for Americans was 8.9 percent, a slight decrease from 2010's number, 9.2 percent.
Other interesting findings from the CDC's report include 15.1 percent of Americans, around 46 million Americans, were uninsured, around 67 percent of Americans, aged 65 and over, received a pneumonia vaccination and 3.4 percent of American adults had serious psychological distress during 2011.
The decrease in the number of Americans smoking and drinking along with the increase in exercise is encouraging and will help prevent obesity and future cardiovascular risks. Unfortunately due to the increase in childhood obesity and diabetes in years past, the number of Americans who are obese or have diabetes has also increased. The trends are encouraging but Americans need to continue to improve their diet, continue to quit smoking and keep on exercising.
The CDC published their early findings of the 2011 National Health Interview Survey on Tuesday.