Health, United States, 2012

May 30, 2013

Health, United States:2012 CoverOn May 30, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) published its annual report on the nation’s health.  Health, United States, 2012— which includes a Special Feature on Emergency Care—is the 36th report on the health status of the nation and is submitted each year by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to the President and the Congress of the United States in compliance with Section 308 of the Public Health Service Act.

Highlights of this year’s special section on emergency care include:

  • During 2001 through 2011, both children under age 18 and adults aged 18–64 with Medicaid coverage were more likely than uninsured Americans and those with private insurance coverage to have at least one emergency room visit in the past year.
  • In 2009–2010, cold symptoms were the most common reason for emergency room visits by children (27 percent), and injuries were the most common reason for visits by adults (14 percent.)
  • Between 2000 and 2010, 35 percent of emergency room visits included an x-ray, while the use of advanced imaging scans (CT or MRI) increased from 5 percent to 17 percent of visits.
  • In 2009–2010, 81 percent of emergency department visits were discharged for follow-up care as needed, 16 percent ended with the patient being admitted to the hospital, 2 percent ended with the patient leaving without completing the visit, and less than 1 percent ended in the patient’s death.
  • In 2009–2010, 59 percent of emergency department visits (excluding hospital admissions) included at least one drug prescribed at discharge.
  • During 2001-2011, the percentage of persons with at least one emergency department visit in the past year was stable at 20 percent to 22 percent, and the percentage of persons reporting two or more visits was stable at 7 percent to 8 percent.

 Other highlights from the report include:

  • Between 2010 and 2011, the percentage of adults aged 19-25 who were uninsured decreased from 34 percent to 28 percent.
  • Expenditures for hospital care accounted for 31 percent of all national health care expenditures in 2010. Physician and clinical services accounted for 20 percent of the total, followed by prescription drugs (10 percent), and nursing care facilities and continuing care retirement communities (6 percent).
  • In 2011, 48 percent of adults aged 18 and over did not meet the 2008 federal physical activity guidelines.

Teen Birth Rates Declining

May 23, 2013

A new report  from NCHS shows that teen birth rates fell steeply in the United States from 2007 through 2011, resuming a decline that began in 1991 but was briefly interrupted in 2006 and 2007. The overall rate declined 25% from 41.5 per 1,000 teenagers aged 15–19 in 2007 to 31.3 in 2011—a record low. The number of births to teenagers aged 15–19 also fell from 2007 to 2011, by 26% to 329,797 in 2011.

Births to teenagers are at elevated risk of low birthweight, preterm birth, and of dying in infancy compared with infants born to women aged 20 and over, and they are associated with significant public costs, estimated at $10.9 billion annually.  Recent trends by state and race and Hispanic origin are illustrated using the most current available data from the National Vital Statistics System.

For anyone interested in find getting a state-by-state ranking of teen birth rates and other health statistics please click here.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • Teen birth rates fell at least 15% for all but two states during 2007–2011—the most recent period of sustained decline; rates fell 30% or more in seven states.
  • Declines in rates were steepest for Hispanic teenagers, averaging 34% for the United States, followed by declines of 24% for non-Hispanic black teenagers and 20% for non-Hispanic white teenagers.
  • The long-term difference between birth rates for non-Hispanic black and Hispanic teenagers has essentially disappeared, and by 2011 their rates were similar.
  • Rates for Hispanic teenagers fell 40% or more in 22 states and the District of Columbia (DC); rates dropped at least 30% in 37 states and DC.

Percent change in birth rates for all teenagers aged 15–19, by state: United States, 2007 and 2011

Health Behaviors of Adults

May 21, 2013

NCHS has put out a new report that presents selected prevalence estimates for five key health behaviors among adults — alcohol use, cigarette smoking, leisure-time physical activity, body mass index, and sufficient sleep.  The report is based on a total of 76,669 completed interviews with a sample of adults aged 18 and over covering the period 2008-2010.

This photograph depicts a male bicyclist.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • About 6 in 10 (64.9%) U.S. adults were current drinkers in 2008–2010; about 1 in 5 adults (20.9%) were lifetime abstainers.
  • About one in five adults (20.2%) were current smokers and over one-half of adults (58.6%) had never smoked cigarettes. Less than one-half of current smokers (45.8%) attempted to quit smoking in the past year.
  • Nearly one-half (46.1%) of adults met the federal guidelines for aerobic physical activity, about one-quarter (23.0%) of adults met the federal guidelines for muscle-strengthening physical activity, and about one in five adults (19.4%) met both guidelines.
  • About 6 in 10 adults (62.1%) were overweight or obese (BMI ≥ 25), with about 4 in 10 (36.1%) adults being of healthy weight (18.5 ≤ BMI < 25).
  • About 7 in 10 adults (69.7%) met the Healthy People 2020 objective for sufficient sleep, defined as at least 8 hours for adults aged 18–21 and at least 7 hours for adults aged 22 and over on
    average during a 24-hour period.


Data representing the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population were collected using computer-assisted personal interviews. NHIS is a general purpose in-person household survey, collecting basic health, health care utilization, and demographic information on all household members with the Family questionnaire. Health behavior questions are asked in the Sample Adult survey component.

Information on Tornado Deaths

May 21, 2013

Though CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics does not have specific data on tornado deaths, we do have data from our mortality database on deaths from “cataclysmic storms,” which includes tornado deaths (International Classification of Diseases Code X-37). This specific ICD code includes blizzards, hurricanes and tornadoes, but doesn’t separate deaths by tornadoes alone.

Below is a chart from our WONDER database that shows how many deaths occurred under ICD Code X-37 from 1999 to 2010.  There are a few things to observe from these data: First, according the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association, the spike in deaths in 1999 was a result of 93 tornado deaths.  There was also another spike in X-37 deaths which occurred in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, the notorious storms that devastated the Gulf Coast.  Finally, the 2008 spike in deaths was a result of 125 tornado fatalities that year.


Food and Skin Allergies Increase in Children

May 6, 2013

Allergic conditions are among the most common medical conditions affecting children in the United States. An allergic condition is a hypersensitivity disorder in which the immune system reacts to substances in the environment that are normally considered harmless. Food or digestive allergies, skin allergies (such as eczema), and respiratory allergies (such as hay fever) are the most common allergies among children.

NCHS has put out a report that presents recent trends in the prevalence of allergies and differences by selected sociodemographic characteristics for children under age 18 years.

Among children aged 0–17 years, the prevalence of food allergies increased from 3.4% in 1997–1999 to 5.1% in 2009–2011. The prevalence of skin allergies increased from 7.4% in 1997–1999 to 12.5% in 2009–2011. There was no significant trend in respiratory allergies from 1997–1999 to 2009–2011, yet respiratory allergy remained the most common type of allergy among children throughout this period (17% in 2009–2011). Skin allergy prevalence was also higher than food allergy prevalence for each period from 1997–2011

Key Findings from the Report:

  • The prevalence of skin allergies decreased with age. In contrast, the prevalence of respiratory allergies increased with age.
  • Hispanic children had a lower prevalence of food allergy, skin allergy, and respiratory allergy compared with children of other race or ethnicities. Non-Hispanic black children were more likely to have skin allergies and less likely to have respiratory allergies compared with non-Hispanic white children.
  • Food and respiratory allergy prevalence increased with income level. Children with family income equal to or greater than 200% of the poverty level had the highest prevalence rates.

Percentage of children aged 0–17 years with a reported allergic condition in the past 12 months, by age group: United States, average annual 2009–2011

Data source and methods

Prevalence estimates for allergic conditions were obtained from the Health Data Interactive (HDI) table, “Allergic conditions, ages 0–17: U.S., 1997–2011,” available from the Health Data Interactive website. NHIS data were used to estimate the prevalence of allergic conditions for this HDI table.

Consumption of Added Sugars

May 1, 2013

Increased consumption of added sugars, which are sweeteners added to processed and prepared foods, has been linked to a decrease in intake of essential micronutrients and an increase in body weight.  The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 recommends limiting total intake of discretionary calories, including both added sugars and solid fats, to 5%–15% per day. Recent analyses indicate that children and adolescents obtain approximately 16% of their total caloric intake from added sugars.

NCHS has put out a new report that presents results for consumption of added sugars among U.S. adults for 2005–2010.

Key findings from the report:

  • Approximately 13% of adults’ total caloric intakes came from added sugars between 2005 and 2010.
  • The mean percentage of total calories from added sugars decreased with increasing age and increasing income.
  • Non-Hispanic black men and women consumed a larger percentage of their total calories from added sugars than non-Hispanic white and Mexican-American men and women.
  • More of the calories from added sugars came from foods rather than beverages.
  • More of the calories from added sugars were consumed at home rather than away from home.

The somewhat counter-intuitive finding in this report is that most calories from added sugars come from foods rather than beverages. However, other research has shown that when looking at individual items – either specific food items or specific beverages – regular sodas are the leading food source of added sugars for adults aged 18-54.