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Less Education May Mean Poorer Health
Date:5/6/2009

High school dropouts more than twice as prone to illness as college grads, study finds

WEDNESDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- American adults with the least education have the worst health, a new study finds.

Almost half of U.S. adults ages 25 to 74 reported being in less than very good health, and levels of health differ depending on level of education, according to a report released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America.

For example, adults who didn't graduate from high school were more than 2.5 times as likely to be in less than very good health as college graduates. Those who graduated high school but didn't go to college were nearly twice as likely to be in less than very good health as college graduates.

The new report added to the commission's growing body of evidence that factors outside of the medical system play an important role in determining how healthy people are and even how long they will live.

"Access to affordable, high-quality medical care is essential, but that alone will not improve the health of Americans," commission co-chair Alice M. Rivlin said in a Johnson Foundation news release.

"What this report tells us is that education has a tremendous impact on how long and how well we live. Policymakers need to focus on schools and education, as well as promoting healthier homes, communities and workplaces, to improve the health of our nation," Rivlin said.

The report's authors said it is the first to look at health and education on a state-by-state basis. Among its other findings:

  • 45 percent of U.S. adults reported being in less than very good health. Rates vary widely between states, from a low of 35 percent in Vermont to a high of 53 percent in Mississippi.
  • Education-related differences in health can be seen within states. In Mississippi, nearly 75 percent of adults who hadn't graduated from
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