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updated 3/11/2004 5:30:57 PM ET 2004-03-11T22:30:57

Asian women are less likely to be obese than white women, but Asian adults aren't significantly more active than white adults, according to a new report that details the health habits of American adults.

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The study, released today by the CDC, shows that body weight, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol use differ greatly according to race, age, education, and other factors.

Researchers found that although these health habits vary significantly among various segments of the population, no single group consistently has lower rates of unhealthy habits or higher prevalence of healthy behaviors.

Researchers say the report provides a higher-than-usual level of detail about the health habits of Americans and shows that some population subgroups have already met the health goals set for the nation by Healthy People 2010. But others still lag far behind based on data collected between 1999 and 2001.

For example, Asian adults had lower prevalence of alcohol use, smoking, and body weight than all other race groups, but they did not have lower rates of leisure-time physical inactivity. And Hispanic women had low smoking rates compared with non-Hispanic women, but they had much higher rates of obesity.

Researchers also found that adults with higher levels of education and income generally have healthier habits in terms of lower smoking rates, increased physical activity, and lower body weight.

Highlights of the study include:

Six in 10 U.S. adults were current drinkers and about one in four were lifetime abstainers. Men were more than twice as likely to have had five or more drinks in a single day in the last year than women. Nearly one-third of adults were classified as light drinkers (three or fewer drinks per week). While about 5 percent of adults were classified as heavier drinkers (seven or more drinks per week for women and 14 or more for men).

One in four adults were current smokers. Almost one-third of smokers began smoking before age 16 and more than 80 percent started by age 21. More than 40 percent tried to quit in the last year. Rates of smoking were slightly higher for black men than white men, but lower among black women compared with white women.

Four in 10 adults were physically inactive in their leisure time. Younger adults were more likely to be physically active than middle-aged or older adults. Rates of physical inactivity were higher among black adults than among white adults (51 percent vs. 37 percent).

One in five adults was obese, and one in three was overweight. Older adults were less likely to be obese than middle-aged adults. Black women had higher rates of obesity (35 percent) compared with Hispanic (24 percent), white (20 percent), and Asian women (6 percent).

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