Group to Release Study

On Uninsured in U.S.

Nearly 82 million people -- one-third of the U.S. population younger than 65 -- lacked health insurance at some point over the past two years, and most of them were uninsured for more than nine months, according to a study by the liberal advocacy group Families USA.

The problem reaches deep into the middle class, affects blacks and Hispanics disproportionately and is most pronounced among people younger than 25, according to the group's analysis of census data.

The study, to be released today, found the highest rate in Texas, where 8.5 million residents, or 43.4 percent of the non-elderly population, did not have health insurance.

Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said fast-rising health care costs, a soft labor market in which employers are passing more health costs to workers and reductions in state programs are driving up the number of uninsured.

Typically, the Census Bureau reports the number of uninsured Americans as those without health insurance for the entire year. The bureau reported last September that 43.6 million were uninsured for all of 2002, and updated figures will be released this summer.

Obesity Rate in U.S.

Has Not Declined

Despite intensifying efforts to confront the problem, the latest government figures show no decline in the U.S. obesity rate, with 31 percent of adults and 17 percent of youngsters seriously overweight.

The measurements, taken over two years starting in 2001, are about equal to the 1999-2000 figures.

The latest estimates were based on body measurements of 4,390 adults and 4,258 children. The survey, conducted regularly since 1960, is considered more reliable than studies in which participants report their own girth because people consistently underestimate their weight.

The findings appear in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

In-Person Renewal

Of Licenses Has Benefit

States that require drivers to renew their licenses in person have a 17 percent lower fatality rate among drivers age 85 and older, according to a study published yesterday.

"In-person renewal allows driver license examiners the opportunity to refer certain older drivers for medical evaluation [that] . . . may include more sophisticated testing such as neurological examinations, comprehensive visual examinations, simulator tests and road tests," the report concluded.

The study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham was based on a review of government statistics from 1990 to 2000, during which there were 4,605 driver fatalities involving people 85 and older.

-- From News Services