(HealthDay)—Despite progress in some areas, health disparities remain for many Americans, health officials reported Thursday. These inequalities are related to income, education, sex, race, ethnicity, employment and sexual orientation, and they all affect Americans' health and well-being, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The purpose of the report is to highlight disparities in health that still exist in the country," Chesley Richards, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC's Office of Public Health Scientific Services, which produced the report, told HealthDay. "If you look at health in the country over the last 50 years, there has been a dramatic improvement in health," he said. "We have seen an increase in life expectancy in the last 20 or 30 years."
Across the 29 categories in the report there has been improvement, but many disparities persist. "For example, we have seen a decrease in tobacco use, but it's not even. In people who have lower educational status, the disparity has actually widened—not improved," Richards told HealthDay. "Although we have seen pretty dramatic improvement in health for the population overall, you really have to look at particular groups to see that there are still tremendous disparities in health outcomes."
The report is published in a Nov. 22 supplement to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a CDC publication. The report covers a variety of areas, including disparities in deaths and illness, use of health care, lifestyle risk factors, environmental hazards, and social aspects of health.