Changes in health behaviors among older Americans, 1990 to 2000

Publication Abstract

Mokdad, A.H., W.H. Giles, B.A. Bowman, G.A. Mensah, E.S. Ford, Michael G. Mueller-Smith, and J.S. Marks. 2004. "Changes in health behaviors among older Americans, 1990 to 2000." Public Health Reports, 119(3): 356-361.

Objectives. The authors used a large population-based survey to examine changes from 1990 to 2000 in age distribution by sex and race or ethnicity, to estimate both state-specific and national trends in the proportion of older Americans, and to examine changes in risk factors and quality-of-life indicators among those Americans. Methods. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a cross-sectional telephone survey of adults aged greater than or equal to18 years. BRFSS data were analyzed for the District of Columbia and all states that participated from 1990 to 2000. SAS and SUDAAN were used in the analyses to account for the complex sampling design. Results. The percentage of Americans aged greater than or equal to75 years increased 23.0% from 1990 to 2000, with the magnitude of the increase varying by state. In 2000, Florida had the highest percentage of persons aged greater than or equal to75 (10.27%) and Alaska the lowest (3.49%). Compared with 1990, older Americans in 2000 were more likely to be obese (116.3% vs. 13.5%) or diabetic (14.3% vs. 11.0%). Older Americans in 2000 were also more likely to exercise, consume more fruits and vegetables daily, and to have recently obtained a routine medical checkup. In addition, they were less likely to smoke tobacco or drink any alcohol. Conclusions. Increases in the population of older people will have a tremendous impact on health care in the states and will affect their future plans for serving the elderly. Although older Americans are living more healthfully than previously, there is an enormous need for targeted health promotion programs to prevent chronic diseases in this age group.


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