The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Merck Institute of Aging & Health (MIAH)
today jointly released (11/22/04) the third annual State of Aging and Health in America
Report, which focuses on promoting healthy behaviors among Americans 65 and
older. These behaviors include eating a healthy diet, controlling weight and,
most important, physical activity.
The new report, which also features input from the Gerontological Society
of America, says that despite the proven health benefits of physical activity,
one-third of older adults are not taking part in any leisure-time physical
Additionally, two-thirds of older adults are not eating the
recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
And nearly one-fifth
of older adults are obese, which is defined as at least 30 pounds above
The report also notes that promoting a healthier lifestyle among older
Americans is the single most important factor in maintaining both physical and
"In order to ensure that our aging population does all it can to stay
healthy and independent, and to reduce risk of disabilities, we as a nation
must do more to translate knowledge about healthy behaviors into action," said
Dr. Patricia P. Barry, Executive Director of MIAH.
The CDC/MIAH report also ranks health status, health behaviors and the use
of preventive services among older Americans at both the national and state
Under the most recent state "report card," which shows whether individual
states are meeting federal targets for various health indicators, no state met
all the federal targets.
Based on the number of federal targets met, Hawaii was the healthiest
state for older Americans, while Kentucky was the least healthy.
Only two states, Hawaii and Minnesota, met the federal target for leisure-
time physical activity. And not one state met the federal target for eating
five fruits and vegetables a day.
However, 37 states met the federal target
for receiving the pneumonia vaccine, compared to only one state in 2002. All
states are now meeting the federal target for colorectal cancer screening.
"The report clearly shows that while most older Americans are receiving
some preventive services, the majority are not engaging in healthy behaviors
which could reduce their risk for disability and illness. We must address this
gap with sustained attention and significant action," said Dr. Terrie Fox
Wetle, President of the Gerontological Society of America.
The State of Aging & Health is the signature publication of MIAH and
presents a snapshot of the entire health and aging landscape in the United
States or another region of the world.
MIAH is a non-profit organization, funded by the Merck Company Foundation,
and located in Washington, DC. The organization is dedicated to improving the
health and independence of older adults around the world through information
and education, and it is especially concerned with the education of primary
care physicians in geriatrics. The Institute currently funds projects in the
United States, Europe and Latin America.
The CDC is recognized as the lead federal agency for protecting the health
and safety of Americans. CDC serves as the national focus for developing and
applying disease prevention and control measures, environmental health
actions, and health promotion and education activities. Located in Atlanta,
GA, the CDC is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr.
Julie L. Gerberding is the Director of the CDC.
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