Obesity, depression, high blood pressure, asthma: These are just a few of the chronic health conditions that are now affecting almost 40 million Americans between the ages 18 and 34, new federal data shows.
Overall, the 2019 data found that more than half of young adults (nearly 54%) now deal with at least one chronic health issue. Almost one in every four (22%) have two or more of these conditions, according to a team of researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The most prevalent conditions were obesity (25.5%), depression (21.3%), and high blood pressure (10.7%),” said a team led by Kathleen Watson, of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
High cholesterol levels affected about 10% of adults under 35, asthma affected over 9%, and about 6% had arthritis, the study found.
Chronic conditions often lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices. Watson’s research team discovered that young adults with a chronic condition are more likely to report drinking, smoking, or inactivity than their peers without it.
The data is based on telephone surveys conducted in 2019 among more than 67,000 18- to 34-year-olds across the United States.
Certain factors seemed to raise a person’s odds for the leading chronic health condition, obesity. One example is that about one third of rural youth were overweight, while only one quarter of urban dwellers are obese. Black Americans were somewhat more likely to be dealing with obesity than whites — 33.7% versus 23.9%, respectively.
Depression tended to affect young adult women (27%) more than men (about 16%), the report found, and depression rates were especially high among the unemployed (about 31%).
The CDC warned that none of these factors bodes well in the future for Americans’ health as they age.
” “Because chronic diseases become more common with age, it is important to focus on prevention as well as risk factors for good health throughout one’s life,” Watson’s group wrote. The risk factors that lead to diseases such as heart disease or diabetes in the later years include obesity, high cholesterol and chronic high blood pressure.
This means “addressing health behavior and intermediate conditions in young adults can help increase long-term well-being and health over the course of their lives,” concluded the team.
The study was published July 29 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
There’s tips on healthy eating in youth at Myplate.gov
SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, July 29, 2022