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Obesity, Lack of Insurance Take Toll on Young Americans

CDC annual report on nation's health focuses on those aged 18 to 29

THURSDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Increased rates of obesity and lack of insurance coverage are among the many health challenges facing young American adults, according to just-released statistics.

A special section on young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 is featured in the annual report on the nation's health from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among its findings:

  • In the past three decades, obesity rates among young adults have tripled, from 8 percent in 1971-74 to 24 percent in 2005-06.
  • In 2006, 34 percent of adults ages 20 to 24 were uninsured, compared to 29 percent of those ages 25 to 29 and 21 percent of those ages 18 to 19.
  • Between 2004 and 2006, 17 percent of young adults reported needing but not receiving at least one of the following health services because they couldn't afford them: medical care, prescription medicines, mental health care, or eyeglasses.
  • Between 1999 and 2004, almost 9 percent of adults ages 20 to 29 reported major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or panic disorder within the past year.
  • Young adults also have the highest rate of injury-related emergency department visits of all age groups.And inn 2005, unintentional injuries or accidents, homicide, and suicide accounted for 70 percent of deaths among young adults.

In addition to the special section on young adults, the report also found for the population as a whole:

  • Life expectancy increased by 3.6 years for men and by 1.9 years for women between 1990 and 2006. In recent years, death rates for heart disease, stroke and cancer have continued to decline.
  • Between 2003 and 2006, 65 percent of men and 80 percent of women aged 75 and older reported having high blood pressure or taking high blood pressure medications, compared to about 36 percent of adults ages 45 to 54.
  • Within the same time frame, cholesterol-lowering drugs helped reduce the proportion of adults with high cholesterol to 16 percent. Women aged 55 and older are much more likely than men in that age group to have high cholesterol.
  • About 25 percent of adults aged 60 and older had diabetes in 2003-06.
  • While not increasing as rapidly as in the past decade, obesity rates remain high. More than a third of adults age 20 and older were obese in 2005-2006.

More information

The American Association for Clinical Chemistry outlines health screening tests for young adults.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Feb. 18, 2009

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