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Annals Of The Obvious: Women Way More Tired Than Men

"In the past 3 months, how often did you feel very tired or exhausted? Would you say never, some days, most days, or every day?" the CDC asked. People who said they were tired or exhausted on most days or every day were categorized as often feeling very tired or exhausted. Those percentages and error bars are plotted by age.
CDC
"In the past 3 months, how often did you feel very tired or exhausted? Would you say never, some days, most days, or every day?" the CDC asked. People who said they were tired or exhausted on most days or every day were categorized as often feeling very tired or exhausted. Those percentages and error bars are plotted by age.

Feeling run down? Dog-tired?

Who isn't, right?

But who's more exhausted: men or women?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the answer, though it's one that you probably could have arrived at without a second's thought.

More women than men said they felt very tired or exhausted most days or every day, when government surveyors asked them. Overall, about 15 percent of women said they were worn out compared with 10 percent of the men.

Now, it gets even more interesting, or maybe it's just obvious, when you break down the responses by age.

The biggest difference in tiredness by sex is in the 18-44 age group. Women in the group were about twice as likely as men to feel wiped out: 16 percent versus 9 percent.

Now what in the world could be going on? Hmm.

A quick spin to another CDC data resource offers a clue. While it's true that U.S. women are, on average, waiting longer to have kids, that first birth happens at about 25. Quite a coincidence!

As people (and their children) grow older, the gender gap in fatigue fades. Among people 45-64, about 16 percent of women are exhausted compared with 12 percent of men. After that, the apparent differences of a few percentage points are really just a statistical muddle.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Hensley edits stories about health, biomedical research and pharmaceuticals for NPR's Science desk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has led the desk's reporting on the development of vaccines against the coronavirus.
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