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Slowdown reported in US health gains

More people gained weight, the number of smokers was about the same, and the percentage of insured shrank, slowing progress on the health of Americans over the last five years, a study found.

Health in the United States improved by an annual rate of 1.5 percent in the 1990s, according to a report released earlier this month by the United Health Foundation, which is affiliated with health insurance provider UnitedHealth Group Inc. Since 2000, the rate has fallen to 0.3 percent a year.

The prevalence of obesity in the United States has doubled since 1990, and more than one in five Americans still smokes, relatively unchanged since 1993. The percentage of the US population without medical insurance is rising, which may be contributing to the lack of progress in improving health, said Reed Tuckson, the foundation's vice president. ''We are stagnating now," he said.

The foundation has produced the report annually for 16 years. It is based on information from the U.S. departments of health, commerce, education and labor, as well as the National Association of State Budget Officers.


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