The nation's health status has remained relatively stagnant since 2000, although its rate of improvement accelerated somewhat in 2005, according to a new study. The annual study combines and weights changes in 18 measures of public health, including total healthcare spending and infant mortality, obesity and smoking rates, to assess overall gains in health status, with 1990 as the baseline year. The nation's health improved 0.9 percentage points in 2005 but has averaged annual gains of only 0.3 percentage points since 2000, according to the study by the American Public Health Association, Partnership for Prevention and United Health Foundation. That compares with average annual gains of 1.5 percentage points throughout the 1990s. The overall improvement in 2005 reflected a decline in smoking prevalence to 20.8% of the population from 22% in 2004, an increase in per-capita public health spending and a decrease in the incidence of infectious disease. Offsetting factors included a rise in obesity to 23.1% of the U.S. population from 22.8% in 2004 and a higher rate of children in poverty. Read the report. -- by Joseph Mantone
Gains in U.S. health status slow in recent years: report
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