Smoking has become much less prevalent among Ohioans over 30 in the last 25 years, but the trend hasn’t extended to younger adults, according to BGSU’s Center for Family and Demographic Research (CFDR).
In its new Ohio Population News: Health and Well-Being of Young Adults, the center also reports that obese Ohioans ages 18-29 are significantly more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes than their peers who aren’t obese.
In 1984, the percentage of smokers was the same—30 percent—among Ohioans under 30 and those over 30, the study notes. By 2008, that figure had dropped to 19 percent among the older group but was still 28 percent among those in the 18-29 age range.
While some smokers who moved into the over-30 group no doubt quit during the intervening years, “what’s sad is you would like to see a greater decrease” among the younger adults, said Heidi Lyons, applied demographer at the CFDR.
She compiled the Ohio Population News report using census data, the 2008 Ohio Family and Health Survey and the Centers for Disease Control’s 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
The obesity-related numbers indicate that while 10 percent of all Ohioans ages 18-29 have high blood pressure, it afflicts 21 percent of obese young adults compared to 8 percent of those who aren’t obese. Further, 5 percent of obese Ohioans under 30 have diabetes, versus 2 percent of their peers who aren’t obese.
Some people may think those conditions won’t be a concern until later in life, but the data suggest “you have the possibility of early-onset high blood pressure and diabetes before you’re 29 if you’re obese,” Lyons said.
Health behaviors as young adults, she added, “often set people on poor health trajectories that lead to further health issues as older adults.”
Statistically significant data reported by the center also include differences in who’s uninsured in Ohio. While one-quarter of the state’s residents in the 18-29 range don’t have health insurance, according to the report, that number drops to 12 percent of residents ages 30-49, 11 percent of those ages 50-64 and only 1 percent of those 65 and older.