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:
"Regardless of where your state falls in these rankings, the news isn't good," commission co-chair Mark McClellan said in the news release. "Education is an important marker for an array of opportunities that can lead to better health. One of the most important things we can do for our nation's health is to improve education quality and educational attainment."
The report authors also established a benchmark rate for adult health by looking at the best level of health achieved in any state among college graduates who also have healthy behaviors. The benchmark was found in Vermont, where less than very good health was reported by only 19 percent of college graduates who exercised and didn't smoke.
A comparison of rates in every state against this benchmark shows that American adults at every education level and in every racial or ethnic group aren't as healthy as they could be, the report authors said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about health disparities.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, news release, May 6, 2009
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