There is some good news in the numbers released last month by the National Center for Health Statistics on the health of Americans in the first half of 2009. But there is plenty of bad news, and it appears that a third of us are not feeling very well at all: the percentage of people who reported having excellent or very good health declined to 66.6 percent in the 2009 period, from 69.1 percent in 1998.
Americans report that they have been exercising more. However, more than a quarter were obese in 2009 (with a body mass index of 30 or more), up from 19.5 percent in 1997. A burgeoning health issue: The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes has risen steadily, and, in 2009, 8.8 percent of Americans received diagnoses of the illness, compared with 5.3 percent in 1997.
How are we coping? Alcohol consumption has been steadily rising over the past five years, and the number of adults over 18 who had five or more drinks in one day at least once during the year rose to 23.6 percent in 2009, compared with 19.2 in 2004. The percentage of adults reporting serious psychological distress has remained steady, at around 3 percent.
More than 40 percent of Americans 18 and older have been tested for H.I.V., and more people ages 50 to 64 received flu vaccines in 2009 than ever before. The percent of people of all ages with asthma has gone up slightly, to 8.3 in 2009 from 7.6 in 2001. In 2009, 10 percent of children under 15 had the disease.
Jeannine S. Schiller, a statistician with the health statistics center, said that although the report focused on long-term trends, there were a few significant changes from 2008 to 2009. “Flu vaccines were up for people 18 to 49 years old, leisure-time activity was up, and the failure to attain needed medical care due to cost went up significantly in one year,” Ms. Schiller said. “Diabetes is also up over the short term.”
Also, almost 15 percent of Americans had no health insurance and no regular place to go for medical care, the report said.
What kind of grade would you give American’s health? What about your own?