U.S. Women's Physical and Mental Health Are Described in New White House Report

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • In my previous post, I provided some of the fascinating data from a new White House report, Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being.  Most of what I wrote about concerning health care issues such as insurance, health care providers, and preventative care. But the report also provides a glimpse of some serious health issues I want to share.

    First, a little background. As I mentioned in my earlier sharepost, this report is the first comprehensive federal study on women since 1963 and statistically describes how women in the United States are faring and how their lives have changed in five areas: people, families and income; education; employment; health; and crime and violence.  The health portion of the report points out that women who are middle-age and older are having real issues with both their physical and mental health and are not taking the time for exercise. 

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    For instance, more women said they are experiencing a chronic medical condition than men. Women report a higher prevalence of asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, cancer, and arthritis. Furthermore, arthritis was reported by a quarter of the women and increased with age, from 10 percent among women age 18-44 to 59 percent among women who were 65 and older. Hypertension also affected almost a quarter of all adult women.

    American women also are having issues with weight, with more than one-third of all women age 20 and older reporting being obese. Additionally, women between the ages of 40 and 59 are slightly more likely to be obese than their younger and older counterparts.

    Exercise also is a concern. The report found that only 43 percent of women age 25 and older met the Federal guidelines for aerobic physical activity. However, this percentage of women exercising decreases with age. While nearly 50 percent of women age 18-44 took part in the recommended amount of exercise, that percentage dropped to 19 percent for women age 75 and older. And more women than men reported having trouble with one of the simplest forms of exercise – walking. While less than 5 percent of women age 18-44, reported difficulty, more than 10 percent of women age 45-54 had issues. This percentage jumped to almost 20 percent for women age 55-64, 25% for those age 65-74, and 45 percent for those age 75 and older. Eighteen percent of Black women reported more difficulty in walking, compared to 12 percent of White women and 11 percent of Hispanic women. Researchers warned that difficulty in walking may result from health conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, pulmonary conditions, neurological conditions, or vision problems.

    The researchers also looked at incidents of depression. They found that the rate of depression reported by females is highest among those age 40-59 and lowest among women age 60 and older. Women who lived below the poverty line are almost three tunes as likely to report depression as females living above the poverty line. Furthermore, slightly less than a third of women who reported experiencing depression said they had contacted a mental health professional during the previous 12 months.

  • This report is important in that it paints a picture of the current status of women. And it reminds us all that we have to place as much emphasis on our own physical and mental health as we do for loved ones.

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Published On: March 09, 2011