Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data From the January–September 2016 National Health Interview Survey

February 23, 2017
Tainya C. Clarke, Ph.D., M.P.H., Health Statistician

Tainya C. Clarke, Ph.D., M.P.H., Health Statistician

Questions for Tainya C. Clarke, Ph.D., M.P.H., Health Statistician and Lead Author on the “Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data From the January–September 2016 National Health Interview Survey.”

Q: What health measures does this report look at?

TC: The measures covered in this report are lack of health insurance coverage and type of coverage, having a usual place to go for medical care, obtaining needed medical care, receipt of influenza vaccination, receipt of pneumococcal vaccination, obesity, leisure–time physical activity, current cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing, general health status, personal care needs, serious psychological distress, diagnosed diabetes, and asthma episodes and current asthma. Three of these measures (lack of health insurance coverage, leisure-time physical activity, and current cigarette smoking) are directly related to Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators.

Q: How do you collect your data for these surveys?

TC: The data is collected by household interview surveys that are fielded continuously throughout the year by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Interviews are conducted in respondents’ homes. Health and socio-demographic information is collected on each member of all families residing within a sampled household. Within each family, additional information is collected from one randomly selected adult (the “sample adult”) aged 18 years or older and one randomly selected child (the “sample child”) aged 17 years or younger. NHIS data is collected at one point in time so we cannot determine causation. Data presented in this report are quarterly data and are preliminary.

Q: What are some of the findings that you would highlight in this early release report?

TC: Here are some findings from the early release report:

• The percentage of persons of all ages who had a usual place to go for medical care decreased, from 87.9% in 2003 to 85.4% in 2010, and then increased to 88.3% in January–September 2016.

• The percentage of persons who failed to obtain needed medical care due to cost increased, from 4.3% in 1999 to 6.9% in 2009 and 2010, and then decreased to 4.4% in January–September 2016.

• The percentage of adults aged 65 and over who had ever received a pneumococcal vaccination increased from 63.5% in 2015 to 67.3% in January–September 2016.

• The prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults aged 20 and over increased, from 19.4% in 1997 to 30.6% in January–September 2016.

• In the third quarter of 2016, 52.8% of U.S. adults aged 18 and over met the 2008 federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic activity (based on leisure-time activity). This was higher than the third quarter of 2015 estimate of 49.5%.

• The prevalence of current cigarette smoking among U.S. adults declined, from 24.7% in 1997 to 15.3% in 2015 and remained low through the third quarter of 2016 (15.9%).
• During January–September 2016, men were more likely to have had at least 1 heavy alcohol drinking day (31.6%) in the past year compared with women (18.6%).

• The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes among adults aged 18 and over increased, from 5.1% in 1997 to 9.2% in 2010, and has since remained stable through January–September 2016.

Q: What do the findings in this report tell us about the health of the country overall?

TC: Since 2010, the percentage of uninsured persons has decreased by almost 50% (16.0% vs 8.8%) and the percentage of persons who failed to obtain needed medical care due to cost has also shown a significant decline during the same time period (6.9% to 4.4%). These two indicators demonstrate increased access to healthcare from 2010 to September 2016.

Q: Are there any trends in this report that Americans should be concerned about?

TC: Although in the 3rd quarter of 2016, 52.8% of U.S. adults met the 2008 federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic activity; obesity is an epidemic that has seen a steady increase since 1997 and now affects just under one third (30.6%) of U.S. adults.


Current Asthma Prevalence by Weight Status Among Adults: United States, 2001–2014

March 16, 2016

Asthma is a common chronic airway disorder characterized by periods of airflow obstruction known as asthma attacks. Symptom frequency can range from intermittent to constant, and attack severity can vary from mild to life threatening.

Several studies have shown that among adults, obesity is associated with an increased risk of asthma diagnosis, more frequent asthma-related health care use, and greater symptom or severity burden.

In a new NCHS report, current asthma prevalence is examined by weight status among U.S. adults aged 20 and over.


  • In 2011–2014, current asthma prevalence was 8.8% among adults. It was higher among adults with obesity (11.1%) compared with adults in normal weight (7.1%) and overweight (7.8%) categories.
  • Women with obesity had higher current asthma prevalence (14.6%) than those in normal weight (7.9%) and overweight (9.1%) categories. Current asthma prevalence did not differ significantly by weight status for men.
  • Current asthma prevalence was highest among adults with obesity for all race and Hispanic origin groups and age groups.
  • Overall current asthma prevalence among adults increased from 2001–2002 (7.1%) to 2013–2014 (9.2%). By weight status, prevalence increased among overweight adults but not among adults in the obese or normal weight categories.


Asthma Awareness Month

May 7, 2014

Illustration of person using asthma inhaler.May is Asthma Awareness Month and it’s important to recognize one of the most common lifelong chronic diseases.

Asthma is a common chronic airway disorder characterized by periods of reversible airflow obstruction known as asthma attacks.  Airflow is obstructed by inflammation and airway hyperreactivity (contraction of the small muscles surrounding the airways) in reaction to certain exposures.  Exposures include exercise, infection, allergens (e.g., pollen), occupational exposures (e.g., chemicals), and airborne irritants (e.g., environmental tobacco smoke).

Symptoms may include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. It is not clear how to prevent asthma from developing and there is no cure. Yet the means to control and prevent exacerbations in persons who have asthma are well established in evidence-based clinical guidelines.

3,404 people died of asthma in 2010, according to the most recent national data.

In 2010, 439,000 people were discharged from the hospital with asthma as first-listed diagnosis and the average length of stay was over 3 days.

Asthma prevalence (the percentage of people who have ever been diagnosed with asthma and still have asthma) increased from 7.3% in 2001 to 8.4% in 2010.  Also, an estimated 25.7 million people had asthma: 18.7 million adults and 7 million children and adolescents.

Children and adolescents had higher asthma prevalence (9.5%) than adults (7.7%) for the period 2008–2010. Females had higher asthma prevalence than males (9.2% compared with 7%).

However, data from the National Health Interview Survey show that asthma prevalence in the U.S. dropped sharply during the first nine months of 2013.

For more information on asthma:









A brief look at asthma

November 5, 2008

Two weeks ago, NCHS released a report concerning the prevalence of food allergies in children. In this report, the authors reported that “children with food allergy are two to four times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared with children without food allergies.” According to the report, about 3 million children have food allergies. However, statistics show that asthma affects almost 7 million children, and asthma rates more than doubled between the 1980s and 1990s. The cause of the condition, like food allergies, is still relatively uknown (Advance Data 381).

For more Asthma statistics, click here.



America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being

July 19, 2007

Last Friday we released the 10th anniversary edition of America’s Children, a product of the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (Forum) is a collection of 22 Federal government agencies involved in research and activities related to children and families. The Forum was founded in 1994 and formally established in April 1997 under Executive Order No. 13045. The mission of the Forum is to foster coordination and collaboration and to enhance and improve consistency in the collection and reporting of Federal data on children and families. The Forum also aims to improve the reporting and dissemination of information on the status of children and families.

Quite a bit of media interest was generated (here | here) on the subject of teen sexual behavior but there was much more to the report. The full report is available here and our overview of the data on health indicators which we contributed to is below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

Asthma Prevalence

June 26, 2007


Asthma continues to be a concern among America’s Children. According to the National Centers for Health Statistics report The State of Childhood Asthma, United States, 1980–2005:

Millions of children in the United States are affected by asthma, a chronic respiratory disease characterized by attacks of difficulty breathing. An asthma attack is a distressing and potentially life-threatening experience. Scientific advances have greatly improved the understanding of the mechanisms that cause asthma attacks and have led to effective medical interventions to prevent morbidity and improve quality of life. Yet, the burden in prevalence, health care use, and mortality remains high. Asthma remains a significant public health problem in the United States.

Follow the link to some of the best info available on childhood asthma