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Published: Sunday, 2/26/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Study finds rise in adult obesity in Lucas County

Percentage of smokers also up from results posted in 2007

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The percentage of overweight Lucas County adults has dropped to 36 percent, a proportion on par with state and national statistics.

Yet the percentage of Lucas County adults who are obese jumped to 35 percent last year, 7 percentage points higher than Ohio and U.S. statistics from 2010, according to the 2011 Lucas County Health Assessment report released this month.

And the percentage of Lucas County adults who smoke has risen to 24 percent, those without health-care coverage is up to 13 percent, and 23 percent had binged on alcohol in the past month, according to the report commissioned by Healthy Lucas County, a group with representatives from the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, Mercy, ProMedica, the University of Toledo, and elsewhere.

The report takes a look at various factors and trends to get a feel for the health status of residents.

It follows similar efforts on adult data done in 1999, 2003, and 2007. For the first time, the report also includes some data for teens and children.

Those who have reviewed the report were surprised by how early and in what numbers youth are participating in risky behaviors, including drinking, smoking, and sexual activity, said Britney Ward, assistant director of health planning for the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio.

"That is probably what people found the most shocking," she said.

For example, 54 percent of Lucas County youths aged 12 to 18 had at least one alcoholic drink in their lives — with 16 percent of that age group being binge drinkers.

The report also found that 13 percent of fifth and sixth graders had tried alcohol.

More than a third of youths who reported drinking had their first alcoholic beverage at 12 years or younger, the report said.

Groups focusing on adults, youth, and children will prioritize top health issues for each age level and develop plans to address problem areas, said Barb Gunning, director of health services at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department.

"We want to develop a strategic plan for our community," Ms. Gunning told the health department's board members last week.

Priorities have not yet been identified, but weight remains a problem in Lucas County for all ages, Ms. Ward said.

Among Lucas County youth in seventh through 12th grades, 14 percent were obese and 11 percent were overweight in 2011.

Seven percent of Lucas County youth in fifth and sixth grades were obese, and 6 percent were overweight, according to the 2011 report.

The report also found that 29 percent of Lucas County youth in seventh through 12 grades had tried cigarettes, and 5 percent of fifth and sixth graders had tried them.

Not all school districts asked students questions about sexual behavior, but 42 percent of sexually active youth responded that they had been active by the age of 13, according to the report.

Youth drug use also is a problem in Lucas County.

Nineteen percent of Lucas County residents in grades seven through 12 had used marijuana, and 11 percent used medications not prescribed to them or used more than directed.

Marijuana use among Lucas County adults rose from 9 percent in 2007 to 11 percent last year, according to the report. And 8 percent had misused prescription medication, it said.

Other data in the 2011 report on Lucas County residents show:

4 percent of Lucas County seventh through 12th graders attempted suicide in the past year, and 14 percent seriously considered it.

3 percent of Lucas County fifth and sixth graders attempted suicide in the past year, and 6 percent had seriously considered it.

13 percent of adults were concerned about having enough food for themselves or their families.

46 percent of youth in seventh through 12th grades had been bullied in the past year.

15 percent of adults texted while driving.

7 percent of adults were abused in the past year.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at: jmckinnon@theblade.com or 419-724-6087.



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