Latest Report on the Nation’s Health Focuses on Young Adults

Embargoed for Release: Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Contact: CDC National Center for Health Statistics Office of Communication (301) 458-4800

Health, United States, 2008, With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults. 604 pp. (PHS) 2009-1232. GPO stock number is 017-022-01610-9. This report may be purchased from the Government Printing Office

Health, United States, 2008, Homepage

Young adults in the United States aged 18-29 years face a number of health challenges, including increases in obesity, high injury rates, and a lack of insurance coverage compared with other adults, according to the latest report on the Nation’s health.

Health, United States 2008, is the 32nd annual report prepared by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, and includes a compilation of health data from a number of sources both within the federal government and in the private sector. This year’s edition features a special section on adults aged 18-29 years, a group making many life choices including decisions about education, marriage, childbearing, and health behaviors such as tobacco and alcohol use, which will affect both their future economic and health status.

Highlights of the new report:

  • Obesity rates have tripled among young adults in the past three decades, rising from 8 percent in 1971-1974 to 24 percent in 2005-2006.
  • In 2006, 29 percent of young men were current cigarette smokers compared with 21 percent of young adult women. Between 1997 and 2006, the percentage of women aged 18-29 years who currently smoked cigarettes declined nearly 20 percent, but current smoking did not decline significantly among young men.
  • In 2005, unintentional injuries (“accidents”), homicide, and suicide accounted for 70 percent of deaths among young adults 18-29 years of age. Three-quarters of the 47,000 deaths in this age group occurred among young men. Young adults also have one of the highest rates of injury-related emergency department visits of all age groups.
  • In 1999-2004, almost 9 percent of young adults 20-29 years of age had major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or panic disorder in the past 12 months.
  • In 2006, young adults aged 20-24 were more likely to be uninsured (34 percent) than those aged 18-19 (21 percent) and those aged 25-29 (29 percent). Young adult men were more likely to be uninsured than young adult women.
  • In 2004-2006, 17 percent of young adults aged 18-29 years reported needing but not receiving one or more of the following services in the past year because they could not afford them: medical care, prescription medicines, mental health care, or eyeglasses.

The full report contains 151 data tables in addition to the special feature on young adults. The tables cover the full spectrum of health topics, serving as a comprehensive snapshot of the Nation’s health. Other highlights:

  • In 2006, American men could expect to live 3.6 years longer, and women 1.9 years longer, than they did in 1990. Death rates from heart disease, stroke, and cancer have continued to decline in recent years. Infant mortality, a major component of overall life expectancy, declined through 2001 and has changed little since then.
  • Sixty-five percent of men and 80 percent of women aged 75 years and over either had high blood pressure or were taking antihypertensive medication in 2003-2006, compared with about 36 percent of adults aged 45-54 years.
  • The proportion of the population with high cholesterol has been dropping, in large part due to increased use of cholesterol-lowering drugs. In 2003-2006, 16% of adults had high serum cholesterol. Women aged 55 years and over were much more likely to have high cholesterol than their male counterparts.
  • Nearly one-quarter of adults aged 60 years and over had diabetes in 2003-2006.
  • Obesity rates do not appear to be increasing as rapidly as they did in past decades, but still remain high, with over a third of adults aged 20 years and over considered to be obese in 2005-2006.