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Americans Living Longer but Obesity Rising

CDC Report Tallies Spending, Health Care Access, and Disease Trends
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

May 16, 2012 -- The CDC today released its annual state of the union's health, and there's good news and bad. We're living longer. But we're also gaining more weight. Teen pregnancies are at a record low. But fewer people can afford necessary prescription drugs and medical care.

The 583-page federally mandated report, titled "Health, United States 2011," also compares how well -- or how poorly -- we fare today with how we were doing over the past decade or so.

This year's report features a special section on how our socioeconomic status and health are related. Here are some highlights:

The Health Gap: Income- and Education-Related Disparities

  • Childhood obesity rates go down as parent education goes up: Nearly a quarter of children whose parents have less than a high school education were obese, which is two to three times more than kids whose parents (or heads of household) had finished college.
  • Seventy-five percent of college-educated mothers breastfed their babies for at least three months, compared to less than half of women who did not finish college.
  • 45- to 64-year-old adults living below the poverty line were as much as five times as likely to be depressed as those living well above it.
  • Nearly a third of adults who only finished high school still smoke, compared to less than 10% among those with a college degree.
  • The number of uninsured children decreased, particularly among those closest to the poverty line: from 22% down to 11-13% in families below 200% of the poverty level.
  • Low-income adults were as much as six times more likely to be uninsured than those who have a family income at 400% or more of the poverty level. They were also much less likely to seek timely medical care.
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