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Press Release

For Immediate Release
December 8, 2005
Contact: NCHS Press Office
(301) 458-4800

Obesity, High Blood Pressure Impacting Many U.S. Adults Ages 55-64

Half of Americans aged 55-64 have high blood pressure – a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke – and two in five are obese, according to Health, United States, 2005, the government’s annual report to the President and Congress on the health of all Americans. The report was prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics from data gathered by state and federal health agencies and through ongoing national surveys.

The report features an in-depth look at the 55-64 age group, which includes the oldest of the baby boomers. In 2011, the oldest of the boomers will be eligible for Medicare, and by 2014, the ranks of Americans ages 55-64 will swell to 40 million, up from 29 million in 2004.

"Controlling high blood pressure and obesity is crucial for health, and particularly for baby boomers as they grow older," said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. "It's time to act against both conditions so more Americans can live longer, healthier lives."

Dr. Julie Gerberding, CDC Director, urged 55-to-64-year-olds to take careful stock now of their health, including such vital measures as weight, cholesterol level, blood pressure, risk of heart attack and any signs of diabetes. "The late 50s and early 60s are a crucial time of life to focus on disease prevention. It’s never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle to enjoy a longer, healthier life," she said.

While many adults in their late 50s and early 60s enjoy good health, others are dealing with chronic and debilitating diseases and lack of health insurance. The report finds that minorities – primarily blacks and Hispanics – are more likely to fall into those categories.

The report also notes that 11 percent of Americans ages 55-64 lack health insurance—compared to the national average of Americans under age 65 without health insurance (16.5 percent). Eighty-three percent of married adults ages 55-64 had private health insurance, compared to 60 percent of widowed, separated, divorced or single adults in that age group.

The report also outlines how the United States spent $1.7 trillion –15 percent of the gross domestic product – on health care in 2003. That works out to $5,671 for every man, woman and child.

Other highlights:

  • More than a quarter of all adults suffered lower back pain in the past three months. Fifteen percent dealt with severe headaches or migraines (more commonly a problem for women). Fifteen percent had neck pain.
  • Life expectancy at birth in 2002 reached 75 for males and 80 for females. At age 65, life expectancy was almost 82 for men and 85 for women.
  • Two-thirds of high school students exercised regularly but only one-third of adults were physically active in their leisure time.

Health, United States, 2005 is available at

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This page last updated December 8, 2005

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