Recent reports by two federal health agencies continue to show gloomy news about health care costs and obesity, with an itty-bitty glimmer of hope in the activity trends of Americans.
The State of Aging and Health in America in 2007
In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's report, "The State of Aging and Health in America in 2007," the agency provides a snapshot of the cost of caring for aging Americans. That cost is expected to add 25 percent to the nation's health care bill by 2030 unless people act now to get healthier and stay healthier, the U.S. agency reported in the recent study, which was an update on one released in 2004.
Researchers for the CDC reported that 80 percent of Americans 65 or older have at least one chronic disease that could lead to premature death and disability. The CDC researchers said they believe policymakers and individuals should take steps to help aging adults forestall chronic disease. If those steps are not taken, the "economic impact on healthcare will be enormous," said Richard Murray, a vice president at Merck & Co. Inc., whose foundation funded the study.
The CDC has the full report, executive summaries, action plans and other materials available for download on its website by clicking here. The report presents current national data available on 15 key health indicators for older adults related to health status, health behaviors, preventive care and screening, and injuries. In addition, there is a "State-by-State Report Card" with similar information for each state to see where they are in relation to other states.
For example, one call to action is for physical activity to be encouraged by promoting changes to the physical environment. Physical activity of older Americans tends to decline, with CDC data showing 28 percent of all Americans 65-74 getting no activity, while 22 percent of those 30-44 getting no activity. In the report, Healthy People 2010, the government's goal is for no more than 20 percent of all age groups to get no activity.
National Center for Health Statistics
In an early release of data by the National Center for Health Statistics (NHIS), which tracks everything Americans do (or don't do) in terms of health, the agency has presented data from the first three quarters of 2006, the latest available.
Including are rates of obesity and leisure-time physical activity, with obesity still showing a rise while activity showing a stall in the decrease.
One chart shows the trends since 1997 for the prevalence of obesity among adults 20 and older. A decade ago the percent was 19.5, age-adjusted, and it has continued to climb slowly with the percent for the first three quarters of 2006 hitting 25.9 percent, up 0.6 percent from 2005's 25.3 percent.
Activity still isn't a good news story, but its trend is better than the one for obesity. The first three quarters of 2006 reflect the same percent as in the first three quarters of 2005 for those who did engage in regular activity, or about 31.5 percent. In addition, the annual percentage of adults aged 18 years and over who engaged in regular leisure-time physical activity showed a lack of a very slight reverse of the decrease in those numbers a few years ago: The numbers increased from 29.8 percent in 1998 to 31.9 percent in 2001, did not change significantly from 2001 to 2003, but had decreased from 2003 to 2004. The stability of the numbers in 2004 and 2005 can only be good news at this point.
To view or download the entire 107-page report or any section of it -- including many charts and graphs -- click here.