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How healthy are your employees off the job?

June 7, 2002
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Americans are doing more binge drinking, smoking and overeating than they were a decade ago, but they are also more willing to buckle their seat belts and get tests and shots to prevent disease, government research suggests.

Researchers compiled results from monthly state telephone surveys of thousands and thousands of adults ages 18 and over, collected randomly from 1991 to 2000. Participants were asked about 11 health behaviors: smoking, drinking, physical inactivity, obesity, seat-belt use, mammograms, Pap tests, colorectal cancer and cholesterol screenings, and flu and pneumococcal vaccines.

Binge drinking rose in more than a third of states and fell in only three. Smoking increased in almost a third and declined in one. Obesity increased in every state surveyed on the topic. Increases were concentrated in the South and Midwest.

Most states showed increases in seat-belt use, mammography and adult vaccinations.

New York showed the best overall results, with improvements in eight measures. Three states - Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota - tied for the most declines, dropping in four measures.

Results appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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