US Pharm. 2010;35(9):8.
The 2008 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found 66% of the population to be in “very good” health, a decline from 1998 (69%). Women aged 18 to 64 years were less likely to have very good health and more likely to have “fair” health compared with men. Non-Hispanic white women were most likely to have very good health, followed by Hispanic women and Non-Hispanic black women. Hispanic women and non-Hispanic black women were more likely than non-Hispanic white women to fail to obtain needed medical care because of the cost.
Physical Inactivity: According to the NHIS, although women (aged 18-24 years, 65-74 years, and 75 or more years) were more active than men, regular physical activity decreased with advancing age. Men and women engaged equally in regular light-to-moderate physical activity. Fifty-nine percent of women got at least some physical activity, and 21% took part in strengthening activities.
Weight Problems: Women and men were equally disposed to obesity, but women were more likely than men (44% vs. 31%) to be a healthy weight. However, women (3%) were three times as likely as men to be underweight. Obesity was highest (30%) in women aged 45 to 74 years, and lowest in those aged 18 to 24 years and those aged 75 years and over. Non-Hispanic black women (39%) were more likely than non-Hispanic white women (23%) to be obese.
Sleep Deprivation: Overall, men and women were equally likely to sleep 7 to 8 hours at night. The difference in length of sleep between men and women varied with age, however. Among people aged 65 years and over, women were more likely to sleep 6 hours or less; among those aged 25 to 44 years, men were more likely to sleep 6 hours or less.
Smoking: Women were more likely to start smoking cigarettes at or after age 21, long after men. Native American women (24%) were five times as likely as Asian women to be smokers. Non-Hispanic white women smoked the most (16 cigarettes daily) of all other ethnic groups. Non-Hispanic white women (20%) were more likely than non-Hispanic black women and twice as likely as Hispanic women to be smokers. Non-Hispanic white women smoked more cigarettes (14) than Non-Hispanic black women (10) and Hispanic women (7).
Commentary: Obviously, the onset of many diseases can be prevented or delayed through behavior modifications. It is primarily health care providers who communicate this to their patients. The Department of Health and Human Services stresses the importance of encouraging patients to modify their poor health behaviors.
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