“WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index provides nearly real-time data on Americans’ well-being across five elements: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. The following are Gallup editors’ picks for the most important health and well-being findings reported in 2016.
- Uninsured rate continues to fall: In what may be the last full year that the Affordable Care Act exists in its current form, the percentage of U.S. adults without health insurance continued to fall. The uninsured rate was 10.9% in the third quarter of 2016, down a full percentage point from a year earlier and down 6.2 points from the fourth quarter of 2013, just before the requirement for all Americans to carry health insurance took effect.
- Obesity hits a record high: The percentage of U.S. adults who are obese, calculated based on their self-reports of weight and height, climbed to 28.3% by the end of July, up 2.8 percentage points from when Gallup and Healthways first measured obesity in 2008. Additionally, fewer Americans now say their overall health is “excellent” than did in 2008. A primary goal of the Affordable Care Act was to improve Americans’ health, but these findings suggest that this goal has not been met. The article discussing these findings was part of a five-part series examining health and well-being under the Barack Obama administration.
- Communities investing in active living infrastructure see results: A study of 48 U.S. communities found that, on average, residents of communities with the five highest “active living” scores — based on walkability, bike-ability, transit infrastructure and park infrastructure — do significantly better in key aspects of physical well-being than do residents of communities with the five lowest scores. The Boston metro area led the nation in having the infrastructure to support active living, while Fort Wayne, Indiana, ranked last.
- Trump win has negative effect on LGBT Americans: The percentage of LGBT adults rating their lives positively enough to be classified as “thriving” declined 10 points after the election, from 51% to 41%. Among LGBT individuals, the drop was seen among both Democrats and Republicans, indicating that concerns about a Donald Trump administration crossed party lines for this group.
- Food hardship falls to a record low: The percentage of Americans saying there have been times in the past 12 months that they did not have enough money to afford food fell to 15.0% when Gallup reported the results in the first quarter of 2016. At the time, this was the lowest figure recorded since Gallup and Healthways began tracking this metric in 2008. Since that report, food hardship edged down to 14.9%, a new record low, in the second quarter before rising to 15.4% in the third quarter.
- Unemployment has damaging health effects for young adults: In developed countries such as the U.S., young adults who are unemployed have lower physical well-being than older adults who are employed. Unemployed young adults with a college degree have even lower well-being than unemployed youth with less education.
- Most Americans support increased e-cigarette regulation: Six in 10 Americans say e-cigarettes should be regulated as much as tobacco cigarettes. This finding suggests that the Food and Drug Administration’s May 5 announcement that it is broadening the definition of tobacco products to include e-cigarettes is consistent with public opinion. Although a majority want more regulation, Americans tend to say e-cigarettes are less harmful to one’s health than tobacco cigarettes.
- Millennials buck the poor health trend: Obesity and diabetes rates have climbed since 2008 among all generations except millennials, who have seen declines. Exercise has increased since 2008 among millennials, while non-millennials have seen virtually no change.
Check out more findings from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
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