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Report: Better education, income mean better health

Wednesday May 16, 2012
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People with higher levels of education and higher income have lower rates of many chronic diseases compared with those with less education and lower income levels, according to "Health, United States, 2011," the governmentís 35th annual report on Americansí health.

The report was prepared by the CDCís National Center for Health Statistics and includes a compilation of health data through 2010 from various sources within the federal government and in the private sector.

This yearís edition features a special section on socioeconomic status and health, with several key findings.

Head of household: In 2007-10, higher levels of education among the head of household resulted in lower rates of obesity among boys and girls ages 2 to 19. In households where the head had less than a high school education, 24% of boys and 22% of girls were obese. In households where the head had a bachelorís degree or higher, obesity prevalence was 11% for boys and 7% for girls.

Adult women: In 2007-10, women 25 and older with less than a bachelorís degree were more likely to be obese (39%-43%) than those with a bachelorís degree or higher (25%). Obesity prevalence among adult males did not vary consistently with level of education.

Smoking: In 2010, 31% of adults ages 25 to 64 with a high school diploma or less were smokers, compared with 24% of adults with some college and 9% of adults with a bachelorís degree or higher. Overall, 19% of U.S. adults ages 18 and older smoked cigarettes, a decline from 21% in 2009.

Life expectancy: Between 1996 and 2006, the gap in life expectancy at age 25 between those with less than a high school education and those with a bachelorís degree or higher increased by 1.9 years for men and 2.8 years for women. In 2006, 25-year-old men without a high school diploma had an average life expectancy of 9.3 years fewer than those with a bachelorís degree or higher. Women without a high school diploma had a life expectancy of 8.6 years fewer than those with a bachelorís degree or higher.

Healthcare coverage: Between 2000 and 2010, the number of children with a family income below 200% of poverty level who were uninsured decreased from 22% to between 11% and 13%. The number with a family income at 200% to 399% of the poverty level who were uninsured decreased from 9% to 7%, while the number with a family income at 400% of the poverty level who were uninsured decreased from 3% to 2%.

Other highlights from the report include:

• In 2010, half of adults ages 18 and older failed to meet federal recommendations for aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening. Older adults were less likely than younger adults to meet the recommendations: 39% of adults ages 18 to 24 did not meet the recommendations, for example, versus 70% of adults ages 75 and older.

• The number of women ages 40 and older who had a mammogram in the past two years remained steady at 67% to 70% between 2000 and 2010. During the same period, the number of adults ages 50 to 75 with a recent colorectal test or procedure increased from 34% to 59%.

Both the full report and an abridged version — "Health, United States, 2011: In Brief" — are available at www.cdc.gov/nchs/hus.htm.


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