Fewer Americans Smoke, but Fewer Physically Active in Leisure-Time

Rating on Overall Health Status is down in 2004

For Release: June 29, 2005

Contact: CDC National Center for Health Statistics Press Office, (301) 458-4800

E-mail: paoquery@cdc.gov

Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data From the 2004 National Health Interview Survey (6/2005)

An annual survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that tracks health and health care in America shows a number of advances in Americans’ health in 2004, but also documents measures that are not moving in the right direction.

CDC’s National Health Interview Survey reports that 20.9 percent of adults aged 18 years and over were current smokers in 2004, down from 24.7 percent in 1997. The percentage of adults who engaged in regular leisure-time physical activity declined from 32.8 percent in 2003 to 30.2 in 2004. Leisure-time physical activity had increased in the late 1990s, but then remained at about the same level before dropping in 2004.

Survey respondents were asked to rate their health as excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor. In 2004, 66.5 percent of people of all ages described their health as excellent or very good, lower than the 2003 estimate of 67.5 percent. Less than 10 percent thought that their health was fair or poor.

Health status is one of the health indicators covered by the program of early release of selected estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, which began in 2001. Other indicators include influenza vaccination, pneumococcal vaccination, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, HIV testing, having a usual place to go for medical care, failing to obtain needed medical care, health insurance coverage, current asthma and asthma episodes, diagnosed diabetes, serious psychological distress, and needing help with personal care.

Other highlights from the 2004 data include:

  • Flu vaccination estimates for adults are considerably lower in the last quarter of 2004 (October – December) compared with those months in 2002 and 2003, probably reflecting the shortage or delay of vaccine supplies during the past flu season. However, the percentage of adults ages 65 years and over who ever received a pneumococcal vaccination continues to increase from 42.4 percent in 1997 to 56.8 in 2004.
  • More Americans failed to obtain needed medical care due to cost at some time during the past 12 months, up from 4.2 percent in 1998
  • The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes continued to increase since 1997, now at 7.0 percent among U.S. adults and up from 5.1 percent in 1997.

“Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data from the 2004 National Health Interview Survey” is available on the CDC/NCHS Web site. For more information about the survey, go to the NHIS Website.