US Shows No Progress Against Chronic Conditions

February 2, 2011

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Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Data-driven | Hispanic | Household Income | Pharma & Healthcare | Women | Youth & Gen X

gallup-chronic-condition-feb-2011.JPGUS adults were as likely in 2010 as they were in 2009 to say they have ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, asthma, diabetes, cancer, and heart attack, revealing that the country as a whole has made no progress in decreasing these costly chronic conditions, according to new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data.

3 in 10 Americans Report High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol

Gallup data shows about three in 10 American adults continue to report having been diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol in their lifetimes, making these two illnesses the most widespread diseases measured. The prevalence of diagnoses of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and cancer is up compared with 2008.

Older, Low-income, Black Americans Report Most Problems

gallup-chronic-demographic-feb-2011.JPGSome groups are more at risk for having certain health conditions. Income, health habits such as exercise and healthy eating, age, and genetic predisposition all relate to whether individuals have chronic conditions.

For example, previous Gallup research has found that low-income Americans, regardless of age, have worse emotional and physical health, health habits, and access to healthcare than do those with higher incomes. A closer look at the 2010 Gallup data reveals:

  • Seniors (58.7%) and black Americans (38.7%) are the groups most likely to report high blood pressure.
  • Americans 45 years of age and older are among the most likely to report high cholesterol.
  • One in four low-income Americans reports having been diagnosed with depression, which is more than any other group.
  • Asthma is most prevalent among low-income Americans (14.6%), women (13.7%), young adults (13.4%), and blacks (13.2%).
  • The percentage of seniors who have diabetes (22.7%) is double the national average (11.3%). Blacks are the second most likely group to report diabetes (15.5%).
  • Nearly two in 10 seniors have been diagnosed with cancer.
  • Seniors (12.2%) and low-income Americans (6.2%) are the most likely to have had a heart attack.

Asian-Americans, High-Income and Young Have Best Health

Three groups stand out as being in the best health: Asian Americans, high-income Americans, and young adults. While differences by age and income are more easily explainable, reasons for Asian Americans’ better physical health are not as straightforward. At every major age and income level, Asian Americans have a lower prevalence of most of the chronic conditions than do whites, blacks, and Hispanics.

  • Asian Americans and young adults are the least likely to report high blood pressure.
  • Americans aged 18 to 44 are the least likely to report high cholesterol.
  • High-income Americans (10.3%) and Asian Americans (7.7%) are among the least likely to report having been diagnosed with depression.
  • Asthma is least prevalent among high-income Americans (9.3%), men (9.2%), and Asian Americans (7.3%).
  • At 1.9%, young adults are the least likely to report diabetes, although this jumps up to 5.6% among those aged 30 to 44.
  • Fewer than 2% of Asian Americans and young adults report a cancer diagnosis.
  • Americans younger than 44 years of age, Asian Americans, and high-income Americans report a heart attack diagnoses at less than half the national average.

US Adult Obesity Stabilizes

More than six in 10 American adults (62.9%) were either overweight (36.3%) or obese (26.6%) in 2010, on par with 2009, but still slightly more than the 62.2% in 2008, according to other recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uses respondents’ self-reports of their height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI) scores. Individual BMI values of 30 or above are classified as “obese,” 25 to 29.9 are “overweight,” 18.5 to 24.9 are “normal weight,” and 18.4 or less are “underweight.”

About the Data: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2010, with a random sample of 352,840 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.


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