Health Highlights: Sept. 18, 2013

By on September 18, 2013

Health Highlights: Sept. 18, 2013

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Percentage of Americans Without Health Insurance Falls for Second Year in a Row

The percentage of Americans without health insurance declined for a second year in a row in 2012, despite little change in household income and the poverty rate, the Census Bureau reported.

According to the findings, 15.4 percent of people were uninsured last year, compared with 15.7 percent in 2011. There were 48 million uninsured people in 2012 compared to 48.6 million in 2011, The New York Times reported.

The proportion of adults aged 19 to 25 without insurance fell to 27.2 percent last year. While not significantly lower than in 2011, it was down from 29.8 percent in 2010.

The proportion of children younger than 19 without insurance declined to 9.2 percent in 2012, from 9.7 percent in 2011, which may be the result of the provision in the 2010 health care law that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26, The Times reported.

Much of the rise in health insurance coverage in 2012 was due to government programs, according to David Johnson, the chief of social and economic statistics at the bureau. He noted that Medicare provided coverage for 15.7 percent of the population last year, compared with 15.2 percent in 2011.

Among the other findings:

  • The proportion of Hispanics without health coverage last year was 29.1 percent, 1 percent lower than in 2011. But the percentage of Hispanics without health insurance in 2012 was still much higher than that of blacks (19 percent), Asian-Americans (15.1 percent) and whites (11.1 percent).
  • The percentage of foreign-born people without health insurance in 2012 was 32 percent, compared with 13 percent for native-born Americans.
  • Two of the nation’s four major regions, the South and the West, had 61 percent of the U.S. population in 2012 but accounted for 71 percent of all of the uninsured people.
  • People with lower incomes were much more likely to be uninsured than those with higher incomes. The uninsured rate was 24.9 percent among people in households with annual incomes of less than $25,000, compared with 7.9 percent for those in households with incomes of $75,000 or more.


Michele Obama Hosting Summit on Food Marketing to Kids

First Lady Michele Obama is hosting the first White House summit on food marketing to children.

The goal of Wednesday’s meeting is to get involved parties talking about how to promote healthier food choices for children, the Associated Press reported.

Invitations were sent to representatives from the food and media industries, advocates, parents, researchers, and representatives of government agencies, according to the White House. It did not release a list of names and organizations.

The First Lady will open the summit with public remarks, but the rest of the meeting will be closed to the media, the AP reported.

Research shows that food marketing is a leading cause of obesity among children, according to consumer advocates. A 2006 Institute of Medicine report said that food and beverage marketing to children “represents, at best, a missed opportunity, and, at worst, a direct threat to the health of the next generation.”


Ex-Smoker Featured in Anti-Smoking Ads Dies of Cancer

Cancer has claimed the life of a former smoker who had a prominent role in a U.S. government anti-smoking campaign that featured graphic ads.

Terrie Hall, 53, died at a hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Hall was diagnosed with oral and throat cancer and had her voice box removed years ago. The cancer, which spread to her brain this summer, was caused by the cigarette smoking she began in high school, according to federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials.

“She was a public health hero,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, which conducted the campaign, the AP reported. “She may well have saved more lives than most doctors do.”

Hall had a leading role in the “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign, which focused on how smoking-related cancer ravages the body. In her first ad, Hall was shown putting on a wig, inserting false teeth and using a scarf to cover a hole in her throat. It was the campaign’s most popular ad and received more than 2.8 million views on YouTube, the AP reported.

Another ad featured Hall speaking with her artificial voice box and advising smokers to make a video of themselves singing or reading out loud. “I wish I had. The only voice my grandson’s ever heard is this one,” Hall said in the ad.

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