Obesity and Diabetes Continue to Rise While Percentages of Uninsured and Those Without Usual Place for Medical Care Have Fallen, CDC Survey Finds

Troy Brown, RN

February 26, 2016

The prevalence of obesity has risen steadily since 1997, but the percentage of those who spent leisure time doing aerobic activity has also increased, according to the most recent estimates for 15 selected health measures from the January to September 2015 National Health Interview Survey.

The National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia, released these data along with estimates from 1997 through 2014 for comparison.

The survey also found the prevalence of diabetes continues to increase; the prevalence of smoking has decreased; the percentage of those who drank heavily on at least 1 day in the past year has decreased for men and increased for women, but was still higher among men; and the percentage of adults with serious psychological distress has risen steadily. In addition, the percentages of uninsured and those who failed to obtain needed medical care because of cost have fallen since 2010. The percentage of those with a usual place to obtain medical care has increased since 2010, but was still about the same as it was in 2003.

General Health Status

The percentage of individuals who had excellent or very good health fell from 68.5% in 1997 to 65.9% in 2006, before rising again to 66.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 65.41% - 66.94%) for January to September 2015. The January to September 2015 percentage did not differ significantly from the 2014 estimate of 66.5%.

Obesity

The prevalence of obesity among adults (aged 20 years and older) in the United States has increased steadily since 1997, going from 19.4% to 30.6% (95% CI, 29.71% - 31.47%) in January to September 2015. This prevalence for January to September 2015 was higher than the 2014 estimate of 29.9%, but the difference was not significant.

Diagnosed Diabetes

The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes among adults aged 18 years and older rose from 5.1% in 1997 to 9.7% (95% CI, 9.15 - 10.21%) for January to September 2015. The 2015 percentage was higher than the 2014 estimate of 9.1%, but the difference was not significant.

Leisure Time Physical Activity

For January to September 2015, the annual percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who met the 2008 federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic activity (based on leisure-time activity) increased from 41.4% in 2006 to 49.5% in 2015 (95% CI, 48.47% - 50.61%). This January to September 2015 percentage was lower than the January to September 2014 estimate of 50.0%, but the difference was not significant.

This measure is directly related to Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators.

Serious Psychological Distress

The percentage of adults who had suffered from serious psychological distress during the past 30 days rose from 2.7% in 2007 to 3.4% in 2011 and increased further to 3.5% (95% CI, 3.16% - 3.85%) during January to September 2015. The percentage for January to September 2015 did not differ significantly from the 2014 estimate of 3.1%.

Current Cigarette Smoking

The prevalence of current cigarette smoking among adults in the United States fell from 24.7% in 1997 to 15.3% (95% CI, 14.6% - 16.06%) in January to September 2015. The January to September 2015 prevalence was lower than the 2014 estimate of 16.8%.

This measure is directly related to Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators.

Alcohol Consumption

The percentage of men who drank heavily on at least 1 day in the past year fell from 31.6% in 1997 to 27.8% in 2006, increased to 32.4% in 2009, and then decreased to 29.9% (95% CI, 28.51% - 31.26%) for January to September 2015. The January to September 2015 percentage was lower than the 2014 estimate of 31.4%, but difference was not significant.

The percentage of women who drank heavily on at least 1 day in the past year rose from 11.2% in 2004 to 14.5% in 2013 and continued to increase to 17.6% (95% CI, 16.70% - 18.56%) for January to September 2015. January to September 2015 prevalence was lower than the 2014 estimate of 18.9%, but the difference was not significant.

HIV Testing

The percentage of adults who had ever been tested for HIV rose from 31.8% in 1997 to 39.5% in 2010 before falling to 38.6% (95% CI, 37.55% - 39.59%) for January to September 2015. The January to September 2015 percentage was higher than the 2014 estimate of 37.5%, but the difference was not significant.

Personal Care Needs

The percentage of adults aged 65 years and older who needed assistance with personal care from other persons was 7.2% for January to September 2015. This percentage did not differ significantly from the 2014 estimate of 6.5%, but there was a significantly increasing trend from 1997.

Asthma Episodes and Current Asthma

The percentage of individuals of all ages who experienced an asthma episode in the past 12 months was 3.9% (95% CI, 3.64% - 4.20%) for January to September 2015, with no clear trend from 1997 to September 2015. The 2015 percentage did not differ significantly from the 2014 estimate of 3.6%.

Receipt of Influenza Vaccination

In the third quarter of 2015, the percentages of adults who had been immunized against influenza during the past 12 months by age group were 67.2% for adults aged 65 years and older, 48.2% for adults aged 50 to 64 years, 29.7% for adults aged 18 to 49 years, and 51.4% for individuals aged 6 months to 17 years.

For adults aged 65 years and older and adults aged 18 to 49 years, the third-quarter estimates in 2015 were lower than the third-quarter estimates in 2014, but the differences were not significant. For adults aged 50 to 64 years, the third-quarter estimate in 2015 was higher than the third-quarter estimate in 2014, but the difference was not significant.

Receipt of Pneumococcal Vaccination

The percentage of adults aged 65 years and older who had ever received a pneumococcal immunization rose quickly from 42.5% in 1997 to 53.1% in 2000, and then rose more slowly to 62.6% (95% CI, 60.92% - 64.28%) in January to September 2015. The January to September 2015 percentage was higher than the 2014 estimate of 61.3%, but the difference was not significant.

Lack of Health Insurance Coverage and Type of Coverage

The percentage of uninsured at the time of interview fell from 16.0% in 2010 to 9.1% (95% CI, 8.71% - 9.54%) in January to September 2015. The percentage at the time of interview was lower than the 2014 estimate of 11.5%, but the difference was not significant.

This measure is directly related to Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators.

Having a Usual Place to Go for Medical Care

The percentage of individuals of all ages who had a usual place to obtain medical care fell from 87.9% in 2003 to 85.4% in 2010, after which it increased to 87.8% (95% CI, 87.25% - 88.33%) in January to September 2015. The 2014 estimate was not significantly different, at 87.9%.

Obtaining Needed Medical Care

The percentage of persons who failed to obtain needed medical care during the past 12 months because of cost rose from 4.3% in 1999 to 6.9% in 2009 and 2010, and then fell steadily to 4.6% (95% CI, 4.34% - 4.77%) for January to September 2015. The percentage for January to September 2015 was lower than the 2014 estimate of 5.3%, but the difference was not significant.

The CDC will update these estimates as each new quarter of data from the National Health Interview Survey become available.

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