Tag Archives: mmwr

CDC: Obesity rises unabated, no state meets goals

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

obesityAccording to Vital Signs, a new part of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (more on that in a minute), the number of adults whose self-reported numbers indicated obesity rose 1.1 percent between 2007 and 2009. Nationally, 26.7 percent of adults were obese in 2009, a number that’s even higher for non-Hispanic blacks (36.8 percent), Hispanics (30.7 percent) and folks who didn’t graduate from high school (32.9 percent.) [PDF transcript of today’s briefing.]

States ranged from Mississippi (34.4 percent) to Colorado (18.6 percent) and none met the federal Healthy People 2010 obesity target of 15 percent.

Healthy People 2010 was started by the HHS in 2000 as an effort to improve public health and eliminate disparities across the country. Obesity percentages were a key benchmarks, as were tobacco use, access to health care, mental health, environmental quality and immunization.

The objectives for Healthy People 2020 are being considered now. They would keep the obesity-related goals from the 2010 effort and augment them with nutrition-based standards.

The CDC says Vital Signs, which will be published on the first Tuesday of each month, “is designed to provide the latest data and information on key health indicators – cancer prevention, obesity, tobacco use, alcohol use, access to health care, HIV/AIDS, motor vehicle passenger safety, health care-association infections, cardiovascular health, teen pregnancy, infant mortality, asthma and food safety.”

ER visits caused by nonmedical use of opioids double in 5 years

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC focuses on the rapid increase of emergency department visits caused by the abuse and misuse of prescription painkillers. The report is based on a review of the five most recent years of data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network.

DAWN’s national estimates are based on a 220-hospital sample. According to DAWN, “nonmedical use” means “taking a higher-than-recommended dose, taking a drug prescribed for another person, drug-facilitated assault, or documented misuse or abuse, all of which must be documented in the medical record.”

The big takeaway?

… the estimated number of ED visits for nonmedical use of opioid analgesics increased 111% during 2004-2008 (from 144,600 to 305,900 visits) and increased 29% during 2007–2008. The highest numbers of ED visits were recorded for oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, all of which showed statistically significant increases during the 5-year period.

It’s a number-heavy report, so I’ve put together a quick overview with the help of the DAWN and MMWR reviews, as well as this DAWN report. You’ll find it below.

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Little recent progress on foodborne illnesses

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report contains some early numbers on foodborne illness rates in 2009. The data, NPR health blogger Scott Hensley writes, aren’t promising, and it looks like most infection rates haven’t really improved since 2004. A transcript and audio of the April 15 media briefing is available.

The report comes with data for the 10 states monitored by the CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network; they’re also broken down by age. To demonstrate just how variable the infection rate is, we’ve pulled numbers for two of the most common foodborne illnesses, salmonella and campylobacter.

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MMWR: Mass. reform narrowed insurance gap

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Studying data from the Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System has led researchers to conclude that health care legislation in that state has narrowed the gap in insurance coverage for underserved populations. The data did show that “some groups continue to experience lower rates of annual checkup and less access to a personal care provider.”

The percentage of respondents who reported having health insurance rose 5.5%, from 91.3% in the pre-law period to 96.3% in the post-law period.

The report, “Short-Term Effects of Health-Care Coverage Legislation — Massachusetts, 2008” is in the March 12 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Survey looks at use of leftover pain meds

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

One in five people in Utah have been prescribed pain medication in the past year, according to new figures from the Morbidty and Mortality Weekly report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the survey only takes into account the use of pain medications in Utah, the CDC notes that “This percentage is comparable to the 18.4% of insured persons aged ≥18 years who reported receiving a prescription for opioids in a national study in 2002.”

The report says that deaths in Utah as a result of  “poisoning by prescription pain medications” increased nearly 600 percent from 1999 to 2007.  It also looks at the problem of leftover medication and people using medications not prescribed to them:

An estimated 72% of respondents who were prescribed an opioid had leftover medication, and 71% of those with leftover medication kept it; during the same period, 97% of those who used opioids that were not prescribed to them said they received them from friends or relatives.

The state has set out some recommendations for health care providers aimed at reducing the availability of unused medications.

The data comes from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an on-going telephone survey system that collects information about health risk behaviors, preventive health practices and health care access. Utah is apparently the first state to include pain medication questions in the BRFSS, “although Kansas added a module of questions regarding chronic pain in 2005 and 2007 with one follow-up question asking how the pain was treated.”