Health, United States Spotlight Infographics – December 2017

December 13, 2017

A new Health, United States Spotlight Infographic from the National Center for Health Statistics is now available online. This infographic features data on teenage childbearing, tobacco use, suicide deaths and obesity.

Health, United States Spotlights are infographics of selected health data available in Health, United States, the annual report on the health of the nation sub

mitted by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to the President and Congress.

Content includes selected indicators on important public health issues from the report’s four subject areas: health status and determinants, utilization of health resources, health care resources, and health care expenditures and payers. Like the report, the Spotlights display the most current data available and, where possible, trends over a ten-year period.

For some indicators, a different set of data years or combined years of data may be shown, depending on survey cycles and design changes. Data sources are identified for each health indicator to enable further exploration and include data systems from both the National Center for Health Statistics and partnering government and private agencies. Changes over time and differences among groups are presented using standard statistical techniques used in Health, United States.

Each Spotlight displays approximately four health indicators allowing users to visualize and interpret complex information from different data systems and Health, United States subject areas. Multiple infographics will be released throughout the year to spotlight important and relevant health data from Health, United States.

For more information on past and present infographics, please visit:


Fact or Fiction: Has the percentage of adults in the U.S. who are obese leveled off in the last several years?

October 16, 2017

Source: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Utilization of Clinical Preventive Services for Cancer and Heart Disease Among Insured Adults: United States, 2015

March 8, 2017

Questions for Anjel Vahratian, Supervisory Statistician (Health) and Lead Author on “Utilization of Clinical Preventive Services for Cancer and Heart Disease Among Insured Adults: United States, 2015

Q: Why did you decide to look at clinical preventive services for cancer and heart disease among insured adults?

AV: Heart disease and cancer are the top two leading causes of death in the United States. The clinical preventive services discussed in this report are recommended for the prevention or early detection of heart disease and cancer. We limited our analysis to insured adults because most insurance plans were required to cover these clinical preventive services without co-payment from the insured adult in 2015.

Q: What did your report find out about cancer screenings among insured adults?

AV: In 2015, two-thirds of insured adults aged 50-75 were screened for colorectal cancer within the recommended intervals, and screening was significantly associated with age for both men and women. Insured women aged 50-59 were more likely to be screened for colorectal cancer compared with men of the same age. Among insured women, more than 8 out of 10 of those aged 21-65 had been screened for cervical cancer, and nearly 3 out of 4 of those aged 50-74 had been screened for breast cancer within the recommended intervals.

Q: What did your report find out about heart disease screenings among insured adults?

AV: In 2015, more than 8 in 10 insured adults aged 18 and over had their blood pressure checked by a doctor or other health professional, and about 2 in 3 overweight and obese insured adults aged 40-70 had a fasting blood test for high blood sugar or diabetes in the past 12 months. Receipt of these services increased with advancing age and varied by sex. Insured women aged 18-39 and 40-64 were more likely than their male peers to have their blood pressure checked in the past 12 months, and insured overweight and obese women aged 40-49 were more likely than men of the same age and BMI to have a fasting blood test or diabetes in the past 12 months.

Q: Was there a specific finding that you found surprising?

AV: It was surprising that only 49.5% of overweight and obese insured men aged 40-49 had a fasting blood test for diabetes in the past 12 months. Diabetic adults are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and overweight and obesity and abnormal blood glucose are modifiable cardiovascular risk factors.

Q: What is the take home message of this report?

AV: Utilization of clinical preventive services aimed at the early detection of cancer and cardiovascular disease varied by sex and age among insured adults. Insured adults in their 40s and 50s were less likely than those in their 60s to be screened for colorectal cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Limited knowledge about the recommendations for clinical preventive services may prevent eligible adults from seeking out timely preventive care.

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.


Characteristics of Physician Office Visits for Obesity by Adults Aged 20 and Over: United States, 2012

March 3, 2016

Obesity, a complex and costly condition, affects more than one-third of adults in the United States. It raises the risk of morbidity from chronic diseases and is a major cause of preventable death.

A new NCHS report examines health care visits for obesity by adults aged 20 and over in 2012. A visit for obesity is one where the provider listed obesity as one of the diagnoses for the visit. National estimates on the assessment of risk factors and the provision of health-education services at these visits are presented.

The main implication of these findings relates to the provision of weight-related health-education services at visits for obesity. While this type of education was offered relatively  more often at visits for obesity, it was offered at less than one-half of those visits.

This finding can inform efforts in health care settings related to providing diet and nutrition, exercise, and weight-reduction health- education services, especially when obesity is a listed diagnosis.


  • In 2012, 11 million visits, or an annual visit rate of 49 visits per 1,000 persons, to physician offices for obesity were made by adults aged 20 and over.
  • Annual visit rates for obesity varied by age and sex.
    Additional chronic conditions were listed more frequently at visits for obesity than at visits for other diagnoses.
  • Visits for obesity were 25% more likely to include assessments of height and weight and of blood pressure, and more than 50% more likely to include testing of blood glucose and lipids, compared with visits for other diagnoses.

Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2011–2014

November 17, 2015

Obesity is associated with health risks. Monitoring the prevalence of obesity is relevant for public health programs that focus on reducing or preventing obesity.

No significant changes were seen in either adult or childhood obesity prevalence in the United States between 2003–2004 and 2011–2012.

An NCHS report provides the most recent national data on obesity prevalence by sex, age, and race and Hispanic origin, using data for 2011–2014. Overall prevalence estimates from 1999–2000 through 2013–2014 are also presented.

Key Findings:

  • In 2011–2014, the prevalence of obesity was just over 36% in adults and 17% in youth.
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher in women (38.3%) than in men (34.3%). Among all youth, no difference was seen by sex.
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher among middle-aged (40.2%) and older (37.0%) adults than younger (32.3%) adults.
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic adults and youth than among non-Hispanic Asian adults and youth.
  • From 1999 through 2014, obesity prevalence increased among adults and youth. However, among youth, prevalence did not change from 2003–2004 through 2013–2014.