Life Expectancy for U.S. Residents Increases by Four Months Since 2000, Report Finds
Overall life expectancy in the United States in 2001 was 77.2 years, up almost four months from a life expectancy of 76.9 years in 2000, according to the National Center for Health Statistics 471-page annual report on the nation's health, the Washington Post reports. The new figures continue "an upward trend" that has been "nearly unbroken" for 100 years, the Post reports (Brown, Washington Post, 10/5). The report, "Health, United States, 2003," includes the most recent statistics from federal health agencies, the U.S. Census Bureau, population surveys and other data. According to the report:
- The gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites has become decreased to 5.5 in 2001 from 5.7 in 2000.
- 78% percent of all children between the ages of 19 months and 35 months completed a series of childhood vaccinations in 2002, but children in poor families had a lower vaccination rate at 72%, compared to 79% for children in families at or above the poverty level.
- Obesity has more than doubled from 15% in the time period between 1976-1980 to 31% in between 1999 and 2000; 65% of adults ages 20 to 74 were overweight or obese in 1999-2000.
- 38% of female high school students and 24% of male students did not engage in the recommended amounts of "moderate or vigorous physical exercise" in 2001.
- 25% of men and 20% of women were smokers in 2002, down only "slightly" from 1990.
- 29% of high school students reported smoking cigarettes in the past month in 2001, down from 36% in 1997, reversing an upward trend present in the early 1990s.
- 13% of children younger than 18 did not visit a doctor or clinic in the past 12 months; 6% had no regular source of medical care in between 2000 and 2001; Hispanic and black children were more likely to be without a regular source of care (HHS release, 10/3).
- The infant mortality rate in the United States reached a record low of 6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2001, down from 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000
- Out-of-wedlock births increased from 300,000 in 1970 to 1.35 million in 2001 (Harper, Washington Times, 10/4).
- 83% of pregnant women who gave birth in 2001 received prenatal care in their first trimester of pregnancy, up from 76% in 1990.
- The teenage birth rate in 2001 was the lowest in six decades at 45 births per 1,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 (Washington Post, 10/5).
- 81% of women ages 18 and older had had a Pap smear within the last three years in 2001, compared to 74% in 1987.