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Chlamydia - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Chlamydia - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

The vast majority of chlamydia cases in the United States are in women, particularly women of reproductive age. In 2018, the reported rate of chlamydia cases was two times higher among women ages 15-44 compared with men in the same age group. Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis and is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. The rate of reported chlamydia cases has increased almost every year since 2000 for both men and women. While this could indicate a trend in the number of infections, it could also reflect that more people are being screened and identified as having chlamydia.  

While chlamydial infection usually has no noticeable symptoms, it can cause permanent damage to reproductive organs if left untreated. Among women, untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, an inability to get pregnant, ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus) and chronic pelvic pain. Further, chlamydial infection in pregnant women can result in negative health outcomes for the baby, including premature delivery, low birthweight, conjunctivitis infection (pink eye) and pneumonia.

Because chlamydia is one of the most common STIs, it is also one of the most costly. The lifetime medical treatment costs for chlamydia are estimated at over $500 million, with an estimated lifetime cost of $364 per case among women.

  • CDC, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention Atlas, 2016

Excessive Drinking - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Excessive Drinking - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of preventable mortality in the United States. Nearly 27,000 women die annually from alcohol-related causes. 

While men are more likely to engage in excessive drinking and become alcohol dependent, the gender gap has been decreasing as these behaviors have become more common among younger generations of women. Females absorb alcohol quicker and metabolize it slower than males, which can lead to accelerated development of adverse health outcomes even at lower levels of alcohol consumption. 

Among women, alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of liver disease, heart disease, breast cancer and hypertension. Very heavy alcohol consumption (14 or more drinks a week) may also make conception difficult. Moreover, binge drinking is associated with an increased prevalence of other substance use. Among pregnant women, alcohol use is associated with preterm birth, stillbirth and miscarriage, and can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Combined use of alcohol and cigarettes during pregnancy may also increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Excessive drinking causes losses in workplace productivity and increases in health care expenses, criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crash costs and property damage. The total estimated cost of excessive drinking in the United States was $249 billion in 2010, or about $2.05 per alcoholic drink consumed.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016-2017

Obesity - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Obesity - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Obesity is a complex health condition with biological, economic, environmental, individual and societal causes. Known contributing factors to obesity include social and physical environment, genetics, prenatal and early life influences, and behaviors such as poor diet and physical inactivity.

Adults who have obesity, when compared with adults at a healthy weight, are at an increased risk of developing serious health conditions, including hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, sleep apnea and breathing problems, some cancers and mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Weight stigma, or discrimination and stereotyping based on an individual’s weight, may also negatively influence mental and physical health. Obesity can impact reproductive health in women and is negatively associated with fertility, contraception effectiveness and mother and infant health during the perinatal period. This includes increased risk of gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes and birth complications such as preeclampsia, cesarean section and postpartum hemorrhage, as well as miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal mortality and infant mortality.

The costs associated with obesity and obesity-related health problems are staggering. One study estimated the medical costs of obesity to be $342.2 billion (in 2013 dollars). Beyond direct medical costs, the indirect costs of decreased productivity tied to obesity are estimated at $8.65 billion per year.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016-2017

Physical Inactivity - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Physical Inactivity - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Regular physical activity is a vital element of a healthy lifestyle. Physical inactivity, or a sedentary lifestyle, can increase the risk of a number of health consequences such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, obesity, diabetes and premature death. Physical activity may lower the risk of breast cancer among women as well as help to improve depression and good quality of sleep. 

Physical activity during pregnancy reduces the risk of excessive weight gain and gestational diabetes. Furthermore, physical activity during the postpartum period (first year after delivery) decreases symptoms of postpartum depression. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 8.3% of deaths of adults ages 25 and older without a disability were attributed to physical inactivity. Costs associated with physical inactivity account for more than 11% of total health care expenditures and are estimated at $117 billion annually.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016-2017

Smoking - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Smoking - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Smoking cigarettes has an adverse impact on overall health. As the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths every year, including 201,770 women. One study estimated the probability of living to age 80 to be 38% for female smokers, compared with 70% for female nonsmokers. Smoking damages nearly every organ and is associated with but not limited to: heart disease and stroke, lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis as well as multiple types of cancer. People who do not smoke are also affected by smoking. Secondhand smoke exposure can lead to respiratory and ear infections in children and heart disease and lung cancer in adults. Exposure to secondhand smoke is estimated to cause about 41,000 deaths among U.S. adults every year. 

Smoking may affect reproductive health. Women who smoke are more likely to have reduced fertility, go through menopause at a younger age and experience adverse birth outcomes, including miscarriage and sudden infant death syndrome. Further, infants born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy have a higher risk of preterm birth and low birthweight and can adversely impact lung and brain development into childhood.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the popularity of e-cigarettes, especially among youth. Many contain nicotine and other cancer-causing chemicals. Research is ongoing to determine their effects on health. 

Additionally, smoking is estimated to cost the U.S. between $132.5 and $175.9 billion for medical expenses as well as $151 billion in lost productivity due to premature death every year.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016-2017

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