WEDNESDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- The better educated you are and the more money you make, the healthier you're likely to be, a U.S. government report released Wednesday shows.
The report found that more educated people with higher incomes suffer from fewer chronic diseases and live longer than the less educated poor.
"Not having education and being poor is detrimental to your health," said report co-author Amy Bernstein, a project director in the division of analysis and epidemiology at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.
That's partly because people with fewer advantages often have health habits that include worse diet, less exercise and smoking, she explained.
In addition, they are likely to be uninsured or have limited access to health care -- disparities that haven't changed much in the decade covered by the report, Bernstein said.
"It's frustrating to the public health community that this is not changing. We want to eliminate health disparities," Bernstein said.
For example, 44 percent of people below the poverty level have a disability, compared with 24 percent of those 400 percent above the poverty line, she said.
"These are really large differences. Being below the poverty line is really bad for your health," Bernstein said.
Highlights of the report include:
In addition to income and educational disparities, the researchers also found:
Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said that "the good news is life expectancy has gone up, some disparities have narrowed and some key measures of the quality of the nation's health care -- such as infant mortality -- have improved. Utilization of clinical services, including clinical preventive services, has also improved somewhat over time."
The bad news includes persistent neglect of the power of lifestyle as medicine, he said.
"The greatest opportunity to enhance medical destiny resides in the realm of lifestyle behaviors -- tobacco avoidance, healthful eating, routine physical activity," Katz said.
Another sobering element is the association between less education and poorer health outcomes, Katz added. "Financial impediments to a quality education may translate into health care costs down the line. The report invites the nation to reflect on the risks of a 'penny wise, pound foolish' approach to education and health alike," he said.
Compared to many other countries, the United States spends more on health care and "has less health to show for it," Katz said.
To see the full report, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Amy B. Bernstein, D.Sc., project director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, division of analysis and epidemiology; David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Health Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; May 16, 2012, CDC report, Health, United States, 2011
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