Health: Are Americans Healthy? (cont.)

Other milestones noted in this year's Health, United States Report include:

Life and Death Average life expectancy reached a record high of 77.2 years in 2001, rising nearly 2 years since 1990. The life expectancy for women was 79.8 years, an increase of 1 year from 1990. Men's life expectancy was 74.4 years in 2001, an increase of over 2 years since 1990.

The gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites has narrowed significantly since 1990, when whites on average lived 7 years longer. The gap in 2001 was 5.5 years, down from 5.7 in 2000.

Infant mortality reached a record low in 2001 of 6.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, down from 6.9 in 2000.

The birth rate for teenagers was the lowest in more than six decades: 45 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19.

Preventive Care Seventy-eight percent of all toddlers (19 to 35 months) completed a series of childhood vaccinations against infectious diseases in 2002, but vaccination rates varied from 72 percent for children in poor families to 79 percent for those in families at or above the poverty level.

Eighty-three percent of mothers received prenatal care in the first trimester in 2001, up from 76 percent in 1990.

Two-thirds of the elderly got flu shots in 2002, matching the previous high in 1999.

Eighty-one percent of women 18 years and over in 2000 had a recent Pap smear (within 3 years). In 1987 the rate was 74 percent.

Behavior and Risk Factors Obesity has more than doubled from 15 percent in 1976-80 to 31 percent in 1999-2000. Sixty-five percent of adults ages 20 to 74 were overweight or obese in 1999-2000.

Twenty-five percent of men and 20 percent of women were smokers in 2002, down only slightly from 1990.

Twenty-nine percent of high school students reported smoking cigarettes in the past month in 2001, down from 36 percent in 1997. That reverses an upward trend from the early 1990s.

Thirty-eight percent of female high school students and 24 percent of male students did not engage in recommended amounts of moderate or vigorous physical exercise in 2001.

Access to Health Care Thirteen percent of children younger than 18 did not visit a doctor or clinic in the past 12 months; 6 percent had no usual source of medical care in 2000-2001. Hispanic and black children were more likely to be without a usual source of care.

"While the health of the Nation has improved overall, some groups have been left behind. It's vitally important that we keep collecting reliable and accurate information so we can chart future trends, target resources, and set priorities that lead to better health for all Americans," said Edward J. Sondik, Ph.D., NCHS director.

Source: Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health and Human Services Press Release, October 3, 2003

Last Editorial Review: 10/6/2003