ULCA Study Shows Worsening Health Among Elderly in California

Dec 21, 2008 by

ULCA Study Shows Worsening Health Among Elderly in California

A recent study at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has found that hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and other chronic health ailments have increased in incidence among the elderly. This was more or in South LA and the Central Valley.

The study, led by Steven P Wallace, a UCLA professor of public health and co-author of the study, which was based on data from the California Health Interview Survey. The said survey polls some 50,000 households across California every two years.

In 2001, about 50% of seniors in California had hypertension. This went up to about 60% in 2005. Statistically significant increases in the condition were noted in Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, Tulare and Yolo counties.

Racial trends remained, too. Diabetes and obesity were nearly twice as prevalent in African Americans and Latinos, as compared to whites. Asian American, African American and Latino seniors had three times the likelihood of reporting difficulty in getting enough to eat.

Across the state, 1 in 6 had diabetes, the number 5 killer of older adults in the country. And this was worst in South LA and in the Central Valley, where the proportion was 1 in 4.

And one of the reasons for the poor state of health in South LA is the prevalence of fast food. A recent LA Times analysis discovered that South LA had the highest concentration of fast food outlets in the city.

The trends uncovered by the study are indeed worrying. “If those trends continue, […] we’re going to come up against a wall as to what medicine can do to keep these people alive,” said Dr Wallace.

And, worse still, with the population graying overall, the number of seniors is growing, with the number of seniors in California expected to double in the coming 20 years, and the proportion of seniors rising from 11% to almost 17%.

“We’re definitely not ready for a baby-boom generation that’s sicker than the current population,” added Dr Wallace. He called the trends a “canary in the mine”.

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