Americans Still Making Unhealthy Choices: CDC
High rates of obesity, heavy drinking, smoking and inactivity reported, but most people getting enough sleep
Public health organizations use this report to determine which groups of Americans are susceptible to unhealthy behaviors, study author Schoenborn said.
For example, while overall people are getting enough sleep, it turns out that doesn't hold true for people with marital problems, she said. About 38 percent of divorced, separated, or widowed adults have trouble getting enough sleep, compared with 27 percent of married folks.
While this is not the federal government's official report on obesity, its findings jibe with both public and private research into the epidemic, said Hamburg at Trust for America's Health.
At this point, only seven states have overweight and obesity rates that are under 60 percent, he said.
"We've seen for nearly three decades a rise in adult rates of overweight and obesity," Hamburg said. "We're hoping we are reaching a plateau, but we've hoped for that in the past."
Young adults provide the most hope for the future, it appears. For example, those aged 18 to 24 were the only age group to show a decline in smoking, from 23.5 percent to about 21 percent.
"Smoking has remained very stubborn at one in five adults. It's just a terrible addiction," Schoenborn said. "The one small little glimmer of hope I saw was in the 18- to 24-year-olds, where we saw some improvement. You hear so much about overweight and obesity and chronic diseases, and how much of our health lies in our hands, but nothing seems to be changing much."
For his part, Hamburg said that despite the lack of progress, it is vital to continue pressing the case that Americans have the power to improve their health through their personal choices. Without lifestyle changes, chronic disease will flourish and health care spending will skyrocket.
"If we can lower obesity trends by a small amount, say 5 percent in each state, we could save millions of American from health problem and save billions of dollars in health spending," he said.