Higher Education Can Boost Your Health, Finds Report

A college education can not only help you land a job, it could lead to greater health, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, titled “Health, United States, 2011,” focused on the role a person’s socioeconomic status has in determining his or her health. After looking at years of data, some going back more than a decade, it found that Americans with a higher level of education were less likely to suffer from obesity and chronic diseases, as well as more likely to live longer, compared to those with less education.

How much so? According to data compiled between 1995 and 2006, 25-year-old men without a high school diploma were expected to live 9.3 years less than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, while women without a high school diploma were expected to live 8.6 years less than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The report also linked education attainment to obesity, finding that between 2007 and 2010, 25% of women 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree were obese, compared with 39-43% of women with less education. A similar correlation was seen in childhood obesity, as researchers found that children whose parents had a higher education were at a less risk for obesity, at a rate of 11% for boys and 7% for girls.

Adults with a greater level of education were also less likely to engage in a risky health activity – smoking. According to the report, in 2010, 9% of adults who graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher were smokers, compared to 31% of adults with a high school diploma or less.

As for why these disparities exist, people with greater education are more likely to have health insurance and access to health care, the report noted.

“Health insurance facilitates access to the health care system,” said the report. “People without insurance are less likely to receive needed care.”

In addition, the report noted that “highly education persons are more likely to be employed and well-paid than the less educated. They have a higher sense of control over their health and lives and more social support.” It also noted that the well-educated are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors and avoid unhealthy ones.

This is the 35th annual comprehensive health report of its kind released by the U.S. government. To see the report in its entirety, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.