NHANES Updates, Drug Overdose Deaths, and ER Visits From Motor Vehicle Crashes
HOST: In March of 2020, field operations for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey – or NHANES – were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Field operations are scheduled to restart later this summer. But the halt in operations presented a problem, since NHANES data traditionally is released in two-year cycles in order to have a large enough sample size to be nationally representative. Because the data collected in the cycle from 2019 thru March 2020 are not nationally representative, NCHS took steps to combine these “partial-cycle” data with previously released 2017–2018 data in order to produce nationally representative estimates.
This effort resulted in a new report this week that explains these “prepandemic NHANES data files,” from the period January 2017 thru March 2020, and outlines recommendations as well as limitations related to using the files. The new report also presents prevalence estimates for selected health outcomes based on these files.
One of the health topics selected was obesity. From January 2017 to March 2020, the data show that 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the U.S. were obese, or 19.7% of the age 2-19 population. The report also shows that nearly half of children and adolescents – or 46% – had untreated or restored cavities in one or more of their primary or permanent teeth.
Among adults age 20 and up, the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity was more than 4 in 10, or 42%, and nearly 1 in 10 were severely obese. In addition to obesity, the new data show that diabetes prevalence among adults was nearly 15% and that nearly half of adults age 18 and over – or 45% — had hypertension. Also, among older adults age 65 and up, complete tooth loss was present in nearly 14% of that population.
Ultimately, these new estimates are similar to those reported during the 2017-2018 cycle, but the additional year and two plus months-worth of data provide a larger sample size and thus more precise estimates. And the release of these data mark another important milestone, in that they are the last NHANES data collected before widespread transmission of COVID-19 began in 2020.
HOST: This week, the monthly provisional numbers for drug overdose deaths in the U.S. were released. The latest round of data cover the one-year period ending in November of 2020, and show that the number of drug overdose deaths increased nearly 30% from the one-year period ending in November 2019. Over 92,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in the year ending in November 2020, up from less than 72,000 the year before.
Three out of every four of these overdose deaths involved opioids, as the number of opioid-involved deaths topped 69,000 in this one-year period ending in November 2020, a major increase from 50,504 deaths the year before. It’s important to note that recent trends may still be at least partially due to incomplete data.
A big factor behind the increase in overdose deaths is the continued increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl. But increases in deaths from other drugs are playing a major role as well. Overdose deaths from cocaine as well as psychostimulants such as methamphetamine have shown significant increases compared to the previous year.
The next release of provisional numbers will feature full-year 2020 data for the first time.
HOST: An average of 3.4 million emergency department visits occur each year due to injuries from motor vehicle crashes. Most people who are injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes are occupants. Studies have shown that medical care costs and productivity losses associated with motor vehicle injuries and deaths exceeded $75 billion in 2017.
Today, NCHS released a new report that presents emergency department visit rates per 1,000 for motor vehicle crashes by age, race and ethnicity, health insurance status, and census region. The data come from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, an annual, nationally representative survey of nonfederal, general, and short-stay hospitals in the United States.
The report shows that in 2017–2018, the overall ER visit rate for motor vehicle crash injuries was 5.3 visits per 1,000, and was highest among patients between ages 15 and 24. The ER visit rate for non-Hispanic black patients was several times higher than for non-Hispanic white or Hispanic patients.
Emergency department visit rates were higher for patients who had Medicaid, no insurance, or workers’ compensation insurance as their primary expected source of payment compared with patients who had private insurance or Medicare. The ER visit rate for motor vehicle crashes at hospitals located in the South was higher than the rates at hospitals in all other census regions of the United States.