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Public Health Rep. 2008 May-Jun; 123(3): 390–392.
PMCID: PMC2289966

NCHS Dataline

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published the latest annual report on the nation's health, “Health, United States, 2007.” Its chartbook and 150 detailed tables track trends in the major health indicators for the U.S. population; this year's special report feature focuses on access to care. Another new report shows that after constant increases over the past few decades, obesity remains at a high level but didn't increase in the latest survey. However, the teen birth rate was up in 2006 after more than 15 years of declines, according to the latest NCHS report of birth statistics.

HEALTH, UNITED STATES, 2007

Nearly one in five U.S. adults—more than 40 million people—report they do not have adequate access to the health care they need, according to the annual report on the nation's health, “Health, United States, 2007.”1 The report's special section focusing on access to care shows that nearly 20% of adults reported that they needed and did not receive one or more of the following services in the past year—medical care, prescription medicines, mental health care, dental care, or eyeglasses—because they could not afford them. In 2005, nearly one in 10 people between the ages of 18 and 64 said they were unable to get necessary prescription drugs during the past 12 months due to cost. Nearly 10% said they delayed receiving needed medical care.

The annual report also tracks key indicators by showing trends in four sections: health status, health-care utilization, resources, and expenditures. It examines patterns over the past few decades and identifies emerging trends. Many of the charts and tables present data by race, ethnicity, and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics to identify groups at greater risk. The data included in the report come not only from NCHS but also from many other government agencies and private sources.

Other major findings of the report include:

  • Young adults 18–24 years of age were more likely than children or older adults to lack a usual source of care and to be uninsured. About 30% of these young adults did not have a usual source of health care, and an equal percentage of them were uninsured.
  • One in 10 adults aged 45–64 years did not have a usual source of health care, and more than 5% of adults in this age group who had diagnosed high blood pressure, serious heart conditions, or diabetes reported not having a usual source of medical care.
  • In 2005, one out of five people younger than age 65 reported being uninsured for at least part of the 12 months prior to being interviewed. The majority of this group reported being uninsured for more than 12 months.
  • One in 10 women aged 45–64 years with income below the poverty level reported delaying medical care due to lack of transportation.
  • About one-third of all children living below the poverty level did not have a recent dental visit in 2005, compared with less than one-fifth of children with higher income.

The report features data on a wide range of health topics affecting all stages of life, and does show a number of important gains:

  • In 2006, 87% of children aged 19–35 months received three or more doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine—up from 41% in 2002.
  • In 2001–2004, the age-adjusted percentage of adults with high blood cholesterol was 17%, down from 21% in 1988–1994.
  • In 2001–2004, about 25% of adults 20–64 years of age had untreated cavities, down from nearly 50% in 1971–1974.

The report is available on the NCHS website at www.cdc.gov/nchs.hus.htm, where users can find the entire report, search for data by topic, and use the tables in Microsoft® Excel. Previous editions of the report are also a part of the Health, United States website.

OBESITY PREVALENCE: 2005–2006

After a quarter-century of increases, obesity prevalence has not measurably increased in the past few years, but levels are still high at 34% of U.S. adults aged 20 and older, according to a new study released by NCHS. “Obesity Among Adults in the United States—No Statistically Significant Change Since 2003–2004”2 is the latest analysis based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys conducted by NCHS. Obesity rates have increased over the past 25 years. Among men, there was an increase in obesity prevalence between 1999 and 2006. However, there was no significant change in obesity prevalence between 2003–2004 and 2005–2006 for either men or women. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. BMI is calculated from a person's weight and height and provides a reasonable indicator of body fatness and weight categories that may lead to health problems. Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

The study found:

  • More than one-third of U.S. adults—more than 72 million people—were obese in 2005–2006. This figure includes 33.3% of men and 35.3% of women. The figures show no statistically significant change from 2003–2004, when 31.1% of men were obese and 33.2% of women were obese.
  • Adults aged 40–59 had the highest obesity prevalence compared with other age groups. Approximately 40% of men in this age group were obese, compared with 28% of men aged 20–39 and 32% of men aged 60 and older. Among women, 41% of those aged 40–59 were obese compared with 31% of women aged 20–39. Women aged 65 and older had obesity prevalence rates comparable with women in the 20–39 age group.
  • There were large racial/ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence among women. Approximately 53% of non-Hispanic black women and 51% of Mexican-American women aged 40–59 were obese compared with about 39% of non-Hispanic white women of the same age. Among women aged 60 and older, 61% of non-Hispanic black women were obese compared with 37% of Mexican-American women and 32% of non-Hispanic white women. These data are available in an Internet-only report on the NCHS website at www.cdc.gov/nchs.

TEEN BIRTH RATE UP IN 2006

The teen birth rate in the U.S. rose in 2006 for the first time since 1991, and unmarried childbearing also rose significantly, according to preliminary birth statistics from NCHS. The statistics are featured in a new report, “Births: Preliminary Data for 2006,” and are based on data from more than 99% of all births for the U.S. in 2006.3 A final report to follow will have more detailed data, but the preliminary report shows that between 2005 and 2006, the birth rate for teenagers aged 15–19 years rose 3%, from 40.5 live births per 1,000 females aged 15–19 years in 2005 to 41.9 births per 1,000 in 2006. This follows a 14-year downward trend in which the teen birth rate fell by 34% from its recent peak of 61.8 births per 1,000 in 1991. The largest increases were reported for non-Hispanic black teens, whose overall rate rose 5% in 2006. This group previously had shown the sharpest decline.

The rate rose 2% for Hispanic teens, 3% for non-Hispanic white teens, and 4% for American Indian or Alaska Native teens. The birth rate for the youngest teens aged 10–14 declined from 0.7 to 0.6 per 1,000, and the number of births to this age group fell 5% to 6,405. The birth rate for older teens aged 18–19 years was 73 births per 1,000 population—more than three times higher than the rate for teens aged 15–17 years (22 per 1,000). Between 2005 and 2006, the birth rate rose 3% for teens aged 15–17 and 4% for teens aged 18–19.

The study also shows unmarried childbearing reached a new record high in 2006. The total number of births to unmarried mothers rose nearly 8% to 1,641,700 in 2006. This represents a 20% increase from 2002, when the recent upswing in nonmarital births began. The biggest jump was among unmarried women aged 25–29, among whom there was a 10% increase between 2005 and 2006. In addition, the nonmarital birth rate also rose sharply, from 47.5 births per 1,000 unmarried females in 2005 to 50.6 per 1,000 in 2006—a 7% one-year increase and a 16% increase since 2002.

The study also revealed that the percentage of all U.S. births to unmarried mothers increased to 38.5%, up from 36.9% in 2005. The report contains other significant findings:

  • The preliminary estimate of total births in the U.S. for 2006 was 4,265,996—a 3.0% increase—or 127,647 more births than in 2005.
  • Birth rates increased for women in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s between 2005 and 2006, as well as for teenagers.
  • The cesarean delivery rate rose again in 2006, to 31.1% of all births—a 3.0% increase from 2005 and a new record high. The percentage of all births delivered by cesarean has climbed 50.0% over the last decade.
  • The preterm birth rate rose slightly between 2005 and 2006, from 12.7% to 12.8% of all births. The percentage of births delivered before 37 weeks of gestation has risen 21.0% since 1990.
  • The low birth weight rate also rose slightly in 2006, from 8.2% in 2005 to 8.3% in 2006—a 19.0% jump since 1990.
  • As a result of the increases in the birth rates for women aged 15–44, the total fertility rate—an estimate of the average number of births that a group of women would have over their lifetimes—increased 2% in 2006 to 2,101 births per 1,000 women. This is the highest rate since 1971 and the first time since then that the rate was above replacement—the level at which a given generation can replace itself.

“Births: Preliminary Data for 2006,”3 as well as state-specific detailed tables, are also available on the NCHS website at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr56/nvsr56_07.pdf.

Footnotes

NCHS Dataline was prepared by Sandra S. Smith, MPH, Communications Consultant at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Jeffrey H. Lancashire, Acting Associate Director for Health Communications at NCHS.

REFERENCES

1. National Center for Health Statistics. Hyattsville (MD): U.S. Government Printing Office; 2007. Health, United States, 2007, with chartbook on trends in the health of Americans. [PubMed]
2. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, McDowell MA, Flegal KM. Obesity among adults in the United States—no statistically significant change since 2003–2004. National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief. 2007 Nov [PubMed]
3. Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Ventura SJ. Births: preliminary data for 2006. Natl Vital Stat Rep. 2007 Dec 5;56:1–18. [PubMed]

Articles from Public Health Reports are provided here courtesy of SAGE Publications