People with higher levels of education and higher income have lower rates of many chronic diseases compared with those with less education and lower income levels, according to "Health, United States, 2011," the government’s 35th annual report on Americans’ health.
The report was prepared by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics and includes a compilation of health data through 2010 from various sources within the federal government and in the private sector. This year’s edition features a special section on socioeconomic status and health, with several key findings.
Head of household: In 2007-10, higher levels of education among the head of household resulted in lower rates of obesity among boys and girls ages 2 to 19. In households where the head had less than a high school education, 24% of boys and 22% of girls were obese. In households where the head had a bachelor’s degree or higher, obesity prevalence was 11% for boys and 7% for girls.
Adult women: In 2007-10, women 25 and older with less than a bachelor’s degree were more likely to be obese (39%-43%) than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher (25%). Obesity prevalence among adult males did not vary consistently with level of education.
Smoking: In 2010, 31% of adults ages 25 to 64 with a high school diploma or less were smokers, compared with 24% of adults with some college and 9% of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Overall, 19% of U.S. adults ages 18 and older smoked cigarettes, a decline from 21% in 2009.
Life expectancy: Between 1996 and 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. In 2006, 25-year-old men without a high school diploma had an average life expectancy of 9.3 years fewer than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Women without a high school diploma had a life expectancy of 8.6 years fewer than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Healthcare coverage: Between 2000 and 2010, the number of children with a family income below 200% of poverty level who were uninsured decreased from 22% to between 11% and 13%. The number with a family income at 200% to 399% of the poverty level who were uninsured decreased from 9% to 7%, while the number with a family income at 400% of the poverty level who were uninsured decreased from 3% to 2%.