Americans are living longer lives according to the newly released “Health, United States, 2010” report from the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the 34th annual report of data compiled from state and federal health agencies regarding the health of Americans.
The report points out that by measuring the nation’s life expectancy, a clear picture of the overall health of its population can be obtained. Because life expectancy represents the average number of years of life expected given current death rates, changes in the measure can are often used to depict trends in mortality. The measure of life expectancy at birth is heavily affected by infant and child mortality.
During the period from 1980 through 2007, the U.S. life expectancy at birth rose from 70 years to 75 years for males, and from 77 years to 80 years for females. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, females have had a longer life expectancy at birth, with the longest duration of life being among white females. Although racial disparities in life expectancy at birth have remained, they have been steadily decreasing since 1990, and have now declined from 8 years to 6 years, with the variance between white females and black females dropping from 6 years to 4 years.
Life expectancy at birth increased 1.3 years among males, and 1.1 years among females between 2000 and 2007. In addition, the gap between male and female longevity narrowed from 5.2 years in 2000 to 5.0 years in 2007. The black population had a larger increase life expectancy at birth than did the white population, which also decreased the racial disparity from 5.5 years in 2000 to 4.8 years.
According to preliminary data, the birth rate among teenagers aged 15–19 dropped by 2 percent in 2008, to 41.5 live births per 1,000 females. This leveled the 2-year increase that blemished the long-term trend of decline from 1991 to 2005, during which rates fell by 34 percent. Also in 2007, the infant mortality rate had decreased by 2 percent since 2000 at 6.75 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
The leading cause of death in 2007 was heart disease at 25 percent, followed closely by cancer at 23 percent. Although the heart disease death rate among adults ages 65 and over decreased by 26 percent between 1997 and 2007, to 1,309 deaths per 100,000, heart disease still accounted for 28 percent of deaths in 2007. This was the leading cause of death for people this age group.
The death rate among adults ages 25 to 44 dropped by 7 percent from 1997 to 2007. This was attributed to a decrease in cancer and HIV-related deaths. At a rate of 25 percent, unintentional injuries were the leading cause of death for this age group in 2007.
Between 1997 and 2007, the cancer death rate among adults ages 45 to 64 years decreased by 14 percent to 200 deaths per 100,000 people. As the leading cause of death for this age group, cancer accounted for about 33 percent of deaths in 2007.
Among the general population, the number of deaths that occurred at home was up from previous years at about 25 percent in 2007. However, the majority of deaths occurred in hospitals (36 percent) and nursing homes (22 percent).
Obesity has emerged as a major health risk factor among America’s young people. An increase in obesity from 7 percent to 10 percent was noted among pre-school age children from 2 to 5 years, while for school-age children 6 to 11, the rates have almost doubled from 11 percent to 20 percent. For adolescents ages 12 to 19, rates have jumped from 11 percent to 18 percent, and the percentage of obese adults 20 years of age and over rose from 22 percent to 34 percent.
As for being more health conscious, the number people working toward getting fit by participating in aerobic activity and muscle strengthening exercise increased for most age groups. However, in 2009, only 19 percent of adults 18 years of age and over met the guidelines.
With today’s technological advances in healthcare and knowledge gained through scientific studies, many Americans are presented with the opportunity to live long and well. However, the rise in obesity and lack of fitness may well lead to many Americans becoming their own worst enemy in the struggle to survive. Make the smart choice to get on the path to a healthy lifestyle, and work toward getting fit for your best chance at living a long and healthy life.