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Am Fam Physician. 2002;66(1):17-19

HHS Releases Report on the Health Status of Women in the United States

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson recently released Women’s Health USA 2002, a new statistical report on the health status of women in the United States. Findings in the report illustrate the disproportionate impact that certain health conditions, such as osteoporosis, asthma, diabetes, and lupus, have on women. Compiled by HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the report highlights current and historical data on health and health-related indicators in three categories: population characteristics, health status, and health services utilization. The report includes the most recent federal data available from HHS and the Departments of Justice and Agriculture. Highlights of the report’s findings include the following: women’s life expectancy reached a new record in 2000 at 79.5 years; 83 percent of women in 2000 received prenatal care during their first trimester; nearly 87 percent of women had health insurance coverage in 2000; and, women’s enrollment in medical school increased by 66 percent from 1980–1981 to 1999–2000. “For the first time, we’re giving people a single place to go to get a comprehensive look at the health status of women across the nation,” said Secretary Thompson. The report is available online at

Family Physician Web Site Adds New ‘Web Reviews’ Column

The American Academy of Family Physicians’ (AAFP) patient-centered Web site,, launched a new biweekly column in June that guides physicians and patients to the best available online health information and steers them away from information that is not beneficial or is potentially harmful. The column, titled “Web Reviews,” is written by Howard and Judi Wolinsky, authors of the 2001 book Healthcare Online for Dummies. The first column discussed urban myths and health care scares on the Internet. Howard Wolinsky was the medical writer for the Chicago Sun-Times for 15 years and began covering the Internet and technology beat in 1994. Judi Wolinsky is head of reference services at the Homewood, Ill., public library. The Web site also directs viewers to drug information databases, self-care flowcharts, and patient information handouts on various health topics. The AAFP also maintains an organizational Web site,, which includes information about the organizations’ meetings, journals and news articles, press releases, publications, and member services.

NHLBI Study Links Teenaged Girls’ Weight Concerns with Smoking

Results of the Growth and Health Study, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), showed that concern about weight and the desire to be thin increased the likelihood that a girl would become a daily smoker by the age of 18 or 19 years. The study also found a similar connection between smoking and such factors as stress; having a parent with an education at the high school level or less; being from a one-parent household; drinking alcohol; poor academic performance; and poor conduct. The study followed 2,379 black and white girls for nine years, beginning at ages nine and 10 years. Researchers assessed the girls’ smoking habits, blood lipid levels, blood pressure, food intake, and physical activity, and gathered information on their parental and guardian education. “The findings show that we need to offer young teenage girls healthy ways of controlling their weight and dealing with stress,” said Dr. Eva Obarzanek, project officer of the Growth and Health Study, “but we also must provide smoking prevention and cessation programs through schools, community, and other outlets.”

NIDDK Web Page Provides Information on Obesity and Weight Loss

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) has a Web site with free information for physicians and patients on obesity, weight control, physical activity, and other nutrition issues. The Web site,, includes newsletters, fact sheets, a resource list of weight loss and control organizations, a list of bibliographic searches on weight loss and control, and a link to the weight-control information network that is coordinated by the NIDDK. The titles of the fact sheets include Very Low-Calorie Diets, Weight Loss for Life, Physical Activity and Weight Control, Binge Eating Disorder, Release of Clinical Guidelines to Identify, Evaluate, and Treat Overweight and Obesity in Adults, and Weight-loss and Nutrition Myths. Also included on the Web site is a table that summarizes the long-term studies of pharmacotherapy for the management of obesity, and a fact sheet discussing statistics related to the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States.

HHS Reports No Increase in Number of Welfare Recipients

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson recently announced that the number of people receiving assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program declined slightly during the fourth quarter of 2001. The latest statistics show that between October and December of 2001, the national number of recipients of TANF benefits declined by 1 percent from 5,338,116 to 5,284,711; the number of families receiving TANF cash assistance at the end of December 2001 was 2,098,930, compared with 2,106,334 at the beginning of October 2001. The number of recipients at the state level varied, with 37 states having growth in caseloads during this period. “Although some states saw some growth in welfare caseloads, the changes were modest,” said Assistant Secretary for HHS’ Administration for Children and Families Wade Horn, Ph.D., whose agency is responsible for overseeing the TANF program. “These numbers reflect continuing progress in moving families off welfare and into the workplace where they can attain and maintain self-sufficiency.” The number of welfare recipients has declined by nearly 57 percent (almost 7 million people) since the creation of the TANF program in 1996, which must be reauthorized this year. For a full report, go online

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Copyright © 2002 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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