AJPH research: Older Americans not prepared for emergencies; body mass index and mortality; heart health for incarcerated individuals' family

Date: Jan 16 2014

Contact: For copies of articles, call or email Kimberly Short, 202-777-2511.

In this month’s release find research about older Americans and their level of preparation for natural disaster emergencies, body mass index and its association with mortality risks and advanced death; and the cardiovascular risks among family members of those that are incarcerated.  

American Journal of Public Health highlights:

  1. Survey shows most older Americans are not prepared for natural disasters 
  2. Body mass index associated with mortality risks and years in advanced death
  3. Family members of those incarcerated at greater risk of cardiovascular disease

Survey shows most older Americans are not prepared for natural disasters 

New research from the American Journal of Public Health finds that nearly two-thirds of older Americans do not have an emergency plan for natural disasters and more than a third do not have a basic supply of food, water and medical supplies in case an emergency takes place.

The study reported survey data from the Health and Retirement Study that collects data on the social, economic and health characteristics of Americans 50 years of age and older. A portion of the survey inquired about disaster preparedness through 21 questions. The sample size of 1,304 people were asked about topics including the presence of a smoke detector, having a disaster plan and having a three-day supply of food, water, medications and other necessary items.

Results from the survey showed that two-thirds of older adults did not have an emergency plan, had never participated in a disaster preparedness educational program and were not aware of available disaster preparedness resources. More than one-third of those studied did not have a supply of food, water or medical supplies in the event of a disaster and 15 percent of the sample used medical devices that required electricity. Researchers also found that older adults with mobility impairments continue to face challenges during disasters and the oldest respondents to the survey were the least prepared for emergencies.

“Preparing older adults for disasters by following certain precautionary measures and designing comprehensive disaster management plans can alleviate some proportion of the physical, social and emotional damage that occurs in these situations,” the authors suggest.

[“Preparedness for natural disasters among older U.S. adults: A nationwide survey.” Contact: Tala M. Al-rousan, MD, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, Iowa]. 

Body mass index associated with mortality risks and years in advanced death
According to new research from the American Journal of Public Health, obese adults die 3.7 and 1.6 years earlier from all-cause and cardiovascular disease-specific causes, respectively, than normal weight adults.  Most at risk are obese adults between the ages of 45 and 64 who die up to 12.8 years earlier than normal weight individuals.

Researchers reviewed results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 1988 through 1994 alongside the National Death Index mortality file through the year 2006. The study sought to examine the association between BMI levels and mortality risk among Americans 18 and older. This included an analysis of the rate at which death is advanced due to an individual being overweight or obese. 

The study found that being obese was associated with at least a 20 percent higher rate of dying from all-cause or cardiovascular disease-related mortality. Furthermore, obese individuals were estimated to die 3.7 years earlier from all-cause than normal weight individuals. The risk was greatest for obese adults between 45 and 64 years of age, whose all-cause mortality was expected to be at least 7.1 years earlier than individuals of normal weight; and whose death from cardiovascular disease was advanced by up to 12.8 years.

“These findings call attention to the impact of the obesity epidemic on the health status, and further its aging effect or premature deaths, among U.S. adults, and suggest that the impact of obesity in the U.S. population has yet to be seen in light of the high prevalence of obesity currently observed in children and adolescents,” the study’s authors conclude.

[“Body mass index categories and mortality risk in US adults: The effect of overweight and obesity on advancing death.” Contact: Luisa Borrell, DDS, PhD, Department of Health Sciences, Lehman College, CUNY, Bronx, N.Y.].

Family members of those incarcerated at greater risk of cardiovascular disease 
According to new research from the American Journal of Public Health, being a family member of an incarcerated individual is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular health concerns, including obesity, heart attack and stroke.

Using survey data collected from the National Survey of American Life, researchers investigated the prevalence of health outcomes such as diabetes, hypertension, heart attack or stroke and obesity among Americans to determine if having a family member incarcerated was an indicator for health concerns.

Results indicated that family member incarceration was associated with higher odds of obesity, heart attack or stroke among women. In addition, researchers found women family members of those incarcerated self-reported fair or poor health, but not men who were family members of those incarcerated.

“Physicians working in communities where incarceration is prevalent should consider screening for family history of incarceration because it may provide information about a woman’s social support system and her risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Our findings suggest that family member incarceration has profound implications for women’s cardiovascular health across race and should be considered a unique risk factor that contributes to racial disparities in women’s health because of the disproportionate burden of this experience among black women,” the authors of the study explain.

[“A heavy burden? The Cardiovascular health consequences of having a family member incarcerated.” Hedwig Lee, Department of Sociology, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.].

Find a full list of research papers to be published online on Jan. 16, 2014, at 4 p.m. below:

  • Associations between driving performance and engaging in secondary tasks: A systematic review 
  • Change in walking and body mass index following residential relocation: The multi-ethnic study of Atherosclerosis
  • Uninsured veterans who will need to obtain insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act 
  • A heavy burden? The cardiovascular health consequences of having a family member incarcerated 
  • Parental incarceration and child mortality in Denmark 
  • Women released from jail experience suboptimal HIV treatment outcomes compared to men: Results from a multi-center study
  • The high prevalence of incarceration history among Black men who have sex with men (BMSM) in the United States: Associations and Implications
  • Firearm and non-firearm homicide in five South African cities: a retrospective population based study
  • Intimate partner homicide and corollary victims in NVDRS states, 2003-2009 
  • Cluster-randomized controlled trial of an HIV/STI risk-reduction intervention for South African men 
  • Previous exposure to Hepatitis C virus among persons born during 1945-1965: Prevalence and predictors, United States, 1999-2008 
  • Estimating acute viral Hepatitis infections from nationally reported cases 
  • Suicidal ideation among community-dwelling adults in the United States 
  • Medical marijuana laws and suicides 
  • The onset of depression during the great recession: Foreclosure and older adult mental health 
  • Are older Americans prepared for natural disasters? A nationwide survey 
  • Body mass index categories and mortality risk in US adults: The effect of overweight and obese adults on advancing death 
  • Body mass index and risk of death in Asian Americans
  • Heavy adults who drink diet beverages consume more calories from food than heavy adults who drink sugary beverages 
  • Sodium intake in a cross-sectional, representative sample of New York City adults 
  • Dietary outcomes of Healthy MOMs/Madres Saludables: A randomized controlled diabetes prevention intervention trial with pregnant Latina women 
  • Work organization and health among immigrant women: Latina manual workers in North Carolina 
  • Do workers underreport work absences for non-traumatic work-related musculoskeletal disorders to workers' compensation? Results of a 2007-2008 survey of the Quebec working population 
  • Early responses to San Francisco's paid sick leave policy
  • The impact of welfare reform on mortality: a multicenter randomized controlled trial.
  • Racial disparities in life expectancy in Brazil: Challenges from a multiracial society. 
  • Socioeconomic position and factors associated with use of a non-supine infant sleep position: Findings from the Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey 
  • Early-life conditions of overall and cause-specific mortality among inner-city African Americans
  • Global childhood unintentional injury study: Multi-site surveillance data 
  • Cost-effectiveness of pit-and-fissure sealants on primary molars in Medicaid-enrolled children 
  • Geographic residency status and census tract socioeconomic status as determinants of colorectal cancer outcomes
  • Determinants of receipt of recommended preventive services: Implications for the Affordable Care Act 
  • "A breath of fresh air worth spreading:" Media coverage of retailer abandonment of tobacco sales

The articles above will be published online Jan. 16, 2014, at 4 p.m. (EST) by the American Journal of Public Health® under “First Look.”  “First Look” articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. The American Journal of Public Health is published by the American Public Health Association.

The American Journal of Public Health ® is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association. APHA champions the health of all people and all communities by strengthening the profession of public health, sharing the latest research and information, promoting best practices and advocating for public health issues and policies grounded in research.

More information is available at APHA online.

Complimentary online access to the journal is available to credentialed members of the media.  Address inquiries to Kimberly Short at APHA, (202) 777-2511, or via e-mail. A single print issue of the Journal is available for $35 from the Journal’s Subscriptions department. If you are not a member of the press, a member of APHA or a subscriber, online single issue access is $22 and online single article access is $20 available online.

If you would like to order or renew a subscription, visit AJPH online or for direct customer service, call 202-777-2516 or email.

To stay up to date on the latest in public health research, sign up for new content e-mail alerts online.

# # #