May 17 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: May 17

Higher Education, Income Levels Lead to Better Health

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.

Arthritis Foundation Releases Report on Physical Activity

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.

Coffee Drinking Linked to Lower Death Risk

Older adults who drank coffee—caffeinated or decaffeinated—had a lower risk of death overall than others who did not, according a study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute and AARP. Coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections.

The study authors examined the association between coffee drinking and risk of death in 400,000 U.S. men and women ages 50 to 71 who participated in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Relative to men and women who did not drink coffee, those who consumed three or more cups of coffee per day had approximately a 10 percent lower risk of death. Male coffee drinkers had a slight increased risk of death from cancer.

The researchers say that how, and even whether, coffee protects against risk of death, isn’t clear because coffee contains more than 1,000 compounds that might potentially affect health. Read more on mortality.

Tags: Community Health, Mortality, News roundups, Nutrition, Physical activity, Poverty