Category Archives: Mortality
A new analysis of mortality data from the University of Washington School of Public Health has found that the life span for women in the United States is improving at a much slower rate than men’s. Researchers analyzed population data by gender, race and county from 1989 to 2009 and found that in 661 counties, primarily in the southeast, the life spans of women had stopped increasing or actually decreased. There are about 3,000 U.S. counties in total.
According to the review, men on average now live to 76.2 years while women live to 81.3 years. That was a gain of 4.6 years for men over the last 20 years, but a gain of only 2.7 years for women. Factors cited by the researchers for the reported changes include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and tobacco and alcohol use. Read about related county-level data from the County Health Rankings, which ranks the health of nearly every county in the nation and shows that much of what affects health occurs outside of the doctor’s office.
The Campaign for Disability Employment, a collaborative of disability and business organizations, has selected the winners in a contest that called for videos to showcase skills offered by people with disabilities, and common misconceptions about disability employment. Among the winners: a video about a disabled school cafeteria employee, Margaret, who helped a child who was choking. Watch the videos and vote for your favorites. The two top winners receive $250 each. Read more on disability.
Poison centers throughout the nation are reporting an uptick in calls about young children swallowing single-use packets of laundry detergent. Some children have become very ill and required hospitalization. “The rapid onset of significant symptoms is pretty scary,” said Dr. Michael Beuhler, medical director of the Carolinas Poison Center. “Other laundry detergent [products] cause only mild stomach upset or even no symptoms at all. Although we aren't certain what in the product is making the children sick, we urge all parents and caregivers to make sure laundry detergent packs are not accessible to young kids.”
- Read a fact sheet from the Association of Poison Control Centers on the growing concern, which includes a photo of the packaging.
- Read a use guide on the single-use products, including several warnings, from a laundry product trade association.
Read more on product safety.
People with higher levels of education and income have lower rates of many chronic diseases compared to those with less education and lower income levels, according to Health, United States, 2011—the annual report on Americans’ health, produced by the National Center for Health Statistics.
This year’s report includes a special section on socioeconomic status and health. Findings include:
- In 2007-2010, higher levels of education among the head of household resulted in lower rates of obesity among boys and girls ages two through 19, compared to families where the heads of households who had less than a high school education.
- In 2007-2010, women 25 years of age and over with less than a bachelor’s degree were more likely to be obese (39 percent-43 percent) than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher (25 percent).
- In 2010, 31 percent of adults 25-64 years of age with a high school diploma or less education were current smokers, compared with 24 percent of adults with some college and 9 percent of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Between 1996-2006, the gap in life expectancy at age 25 between those with less than a high school education and those with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased by 1.9 years for men and 2.8 years for women.
Read more on poverty and health.
The Arthritis Foundation has released a new report, Environmental and Policy Strategies to Increase Physical Activity among Adults with Arthritis, to help increase physical activity among people with arthritis. The new report is aimed at health agencies, businesses, recreation facilities, and others to help meet the exercise needs of people with the condition.
Arthritis affects 50 million adults in the United States—more than 20 percent of the adult population and that number is expected to grow. According to the report, people with arthritis have disease-specific barriers to being physically active including pain, fear of making their arthritis worse, lack of knowledge about the best type and amount of exercise, and fear of injury. Physical activity, however, has been shown to help decrease pain, delay the onset of disability, improve physical functioning and independence, and enhance the mood and quality of life for adults with arthritis. Read more on physical activity.
Residents in 25 states and the District of Columbia are breathing a little easier these days.
Since 2000, their governments have enacted smoke-free laws that apply to all workplaces, restaurants and bars, according to a report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The new report underscores the strong momentum across the country to pass smoke-free workplace laws that protect all workers and the public from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke,” says Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The report projects that, at the current rate of progress, the entire nation could have laws banning smoking in all indoor areas of private sector worksites, restaurants and bars by 2020. These places are major sources of secondhand smoke exposure.
“As the U.S. Surgeon General and numerous scientific studies have found, smoke-free laws protect health without harming business,” said Myers.
In addition, polls and ballot initiatives repeatedly have shown that the public strongly supports smoke-free laws that apply to all workplaces and public places and protect everyone’s right to breathe clean air. (RELATED: See our interactive tobacco control map.)
“Every state should enact such a law,” Myers said.
For additional perspective on the CDC report, NewPublicHealth spoke with Maggie Mahoney, Deputy Director of the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium. The Consortium is a partner of the Public Health Law Network and is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
NewPublicHealth: Are all the laws that have been enacted the best they can be, or could some be strengthened?
Maggie Mahoney: As the CDC's report notes, the U.S. Surgeon General found in 2006 that no level of exposure to secondhand smoke is safe. It is for this reason that the public health community strives to pass smoke-free laws that — at a minimum — prohibit smoking in enclosed public places and in enclosed places of employment. A number of jurisdictions have gone beyond this minimum level of protection and have passed laws that prohibit smoking in certain outdoor areas where people gather or work, due to evidence that secondhand smoke does not necessarily dissipate quickly in outdoor areas where people are smoking.
A number of the existing laws were passed before the 2006 Surgeon General's Report [on secondhand smoke] was released, and could be strengthened to reflect the current science on this issue.
NPH: How hopeful are you that states that have not yet passed smoke-free laws will do so, and soon?
Mahoney: The public health community is dedicated to reducing tobacco use — the single most preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States — as well as reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, which causes 3,000 nonsmoking Americans to die of lung cancer and 46,000 to die of heart disease each year. Those facts alone should compel all — and have caused many — lawmakers to pass strong smoke-free laws. Other lawmakers have been persuaded by data showing that tobacco use results in medical costs of $96 billion per year and lost productivity costs of $97 billion per year; that smoke-free laws do not negatively impact business revenues; and that courts have found that passing smoke-free laws is an appropriate use of the government's police power. In some jurisdictions where lawmakers have hesitated to act, the public has gone to the ballot to demand to be free of exposure to secondhand smoke. There has been tremendous progress in passing smoke-free laws, especially in recent years. This turning of the tide shows that it is only a matter of time before the remainder of the United States population is protected from exposure to secondhand smoke.
NPH: And are there any concerns that states with smoke-free laws could weaken or repeal them?
Mahoney: Any law that is passed has the threat of being repealed. Additionally, weak laws are still being passed in some jurisdictions — and some strong laws currently are facing the threat of being watered down — due to misperceptions by legislative bodies about the dangers of secondhand smoke; the desire of their constituents to breathe smoke-free air in their workplaces and in places they visit; or the potential effects on business revenues.
We've seen a couple of instances at the local level where smoke-free ordinances were repealed before they went into effect, and a few attempts at the state level to put repeal measures on the ballot. For example, in Campbell County, Ky., the ordinance was passed shortly after an election, but before the new county officials took office. The new county officials repealed the ordinance before it went into effect. And in South Dakota a smoke-free law was scheduled to go into effect in 2009, but implementation was put on hold after opponents put a repeal measure on the ballot. In November 2010, the citizens of South Dakota voted against the repeal attempt and decided to keep the smoke-free law. These situations are rare. It is more typical to see attempts to reopen smoke-free laws to add language allowing smoking in certain types of venues.
NPH: What are the sorts of questions you’ve been fielding on smoke-free laws recently?
Mahoney: Just in the last two weeks, we've reviewed draft amendment language that is being considered by a state legislature and discussed the ramifications of those possible amendments with public health advocates; researched penalty provisions in a draft local ordinance, to see whether they are consistent with state law; and conducted research to help a governmental attorney prepare her brief in a court case where a bar owner is arguing that a smoke-free law should be overturned.
A YMCA survey of over 1,500 U.S. parents of children ages 5-10 finds that only 15 percent make their kids' physical fitness a top priority.
Preliminary study by researchers at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences finds babies of women who did aerobic exercise during pregnancy had healthier hearts compared to babies of moms who didn’t.
Beyond BPA: Could 'BPA-Free' Products Be Just as Unsafe? (The Atlantic)
There are the new plastics on the market for BPA-free bottles, can liners, and other such products. But because the U.S. system of regulating chemicals relies primarily on information supplied by a material's manufacturer, we know relatively little about these new plastics.
A Lancet study finds that U.S. stillbirth rate has dropped, but is still high.
Preliminary study by researchers at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland finds a higher rate of non-accidental head trauma in babies for the 31 months of the recession period (December 2007 to June 2010) compared with 72 non-recession months (December 2001 to November 2007).
Health Cost Containment Options Might Save $480 Billion (Kaiser Health News)
Details from the president's deficit reduction speech from yesterday concerning health care.
Weight loss is an important goal, but it’s only part of the health equation. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has released new data that gives an even more compelling reason to get the public moving — it may extend lives.
A study published today (pdf) in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that following federal guidelines for physical activity may lead to longer life. The NCHS study examined the exercise habits of nearly 250,000 Americans and covered how often they did aerobic and strength-training activities.
The risk of dying prematurely was 27% lower for healthy adults who followed the activity guidelines. For adults suffering from chronic disease, following the activity guidelines had an even stronger impact — helping reduce the risk of dying prematurely by almost half.
The guidelines call for adults to do moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least 150 minutes per week or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise at least 75 minutes per week. In addition, they call for strength-training activities at least twice a week.
The recently released 2011 County Health Rankings include increased physical activity as one of the action items that counties can implement to improve the overall health of their community.
The Rankings – in their second year – help counties understand what influences how healthy residents are and how long they will live. The Rankings look at a variety of measures that affect health, such as the rate of people dying before age 75; high school graduation rates; access to healthier foods; air pollution levels; income; and rates of smoking, obesity and teen births.
Lincoln County, Neb., – for example – made increased physical activity a priority after the 2010 County Health Rankings placed it 54th out of 55 counties on the important measure of health behaviors.
QUESTION: Now that spring has arrived, what plans do you and your community have to encourage physical activity?