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America's Health a Mixed Bag: Report
Date:2/16/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. officials on Wednesday released the annual state-of-the-nation's health report and the news is mixed, with life expectancy rates on the rise but obesity levels still climbing.

On the positive side, life expectancy was up slightly in 2007, to 77.9 years from 76.8 years at the beginning of the decade.

And while women are still ahead of the game, gender and race gaps in longevity have narrowed, according to the report, compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's encouraging that life expectancy continues to increase, although at a very small pace, but as we're living longer we're living longer with disease," said Dr. Patrick Remington, associate dean for public health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison. "Years added to your life expectancy are years with disease."

Perhaps even more troubling, said experts, are climbing obesity rates, with two-thirds of adults now overweight or obese, up from 29.9 percent a decade ago. While obesity rates among 2- to 5-year-olds seem to be leveling off, rates among older children and teens are still increasing, the report showed.

"The overall trend for childhood obesity is upward, which is not a good sign for future obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer," said Cheryl L. Perry, dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus, part of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. "There may be some hope for the younger children, but it's probably too soon to declare victory, since the 6- to 11-year-old rates also declined, but then increased substantially in the next wave."

Other risk factors for chronic illnesses, including heart disease, aren't looking too good, either.

"Obesity, diabetes and hypertension are
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