CDC Report Points to Obesity, Injuries Among Young Adults

"Health, United States: 2008" is the 32nd annual edition of the report prepared by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. The 604-page document distills the latest information available from numerous federal and private-sector sources about the nation's health, and it features a special section on adults ages 18 to 29. CDC points out that this age group is "making many life choices including decisions about education, marriage, childbearing, and health behaviors such as tobacco and alcohol use, which will affect both their future economic and health status."

The report identifies several problem areas. Obesity rates have tripled among young adults in the past three decades, from 8 percent in 1971-1974 to 24 percent in 2005-2006. Also, 29 percent of young men and 21 percent of young adult women were current cigarette smokers in 2006. (Between 1997 and 2006, the percentage of women 18–29 years of age who currently smoked cigarettes declined nearly 20 percent, but current smoking did not decline significantly among young men.)

Injury rates are another concern for this group. In 2005, unintentional injuries or accidents, homicides, and suicides accounted for 70 percent of deaths among young adults 18–29 years of age, with 75 percent of the 47,000 deaths occurring among young men. Young adults have the highest rate of injury-related emergency department visits among all age groups.

Also in 2006, adults ages 20–24 were more likely to be uninsured (34 percent) than those ages 18–19 (21 percent) and 25–29 (29 percent), while in 2004–2006, 17 percent of adults ages 18–29 reported needing but not receiving at least one of the following services in the prior year because they could not afford them: medical care, prescription medicines, mental health care, or eyeglasses.

Overall, the proportion of the U.S. population with high cholesterol levels has been dropping, mainly because of increased use of cholesterol-lowering drugs. In 2003–2006, 16 percent of all adults had high cholesterol. Women ages 55 and over were much more likely to have high cholesterol than male counterparts.

CDC said obesity rates "do not appear to be increasing as rapidly as they did in past decades, but remain high, with over a third of adults age 20 and over considered to be obese in 2005–2006."

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