Overweight population falls in Wood County


BOWLING GREEN — When Wood County had its last wellness check four years ago, it was apparent residents had a weight problem.

Some 70 percent of adults in the county were overweight, 30 percent were classified as obese.

The number of overweight adults dropped slightly — to 66 percent — in the 2012 report, which was released Tuesday during a meeting of heath professionals at the Wood County Educational Service Center.

“You’re the only county where we’ve seen the numbers decrease,” said Britney Ward, assistant director of health planning for the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, whichconducted the countywide assessment. “Still, 66 percent isn’t good at all. We all know we have to focus on obesity — it’s a major issue.”

Full Wood County Health Report

Ms. Ward discussed the highlights of the health assessment, which for the first time included children ages 0 to 11.

She gave Wood County high marks for its dental health, pointing out that 74 percent of adults and 82 percent of youths had visited a dentist in the last year.

The county’s adult smoking rate also dropped considerably. Some 11 percent of adults in Wood County said they smoke cigarettes — down from 23 percent in 2008. 

The average is 23 percent in Ohio, 17 percent nationwide.

“This is one of the lowest rates we’ve seen,” Ms. Ward said.

She also was impressed with residents’ access to health care. When adults were asked what types of assistance programs they had sought out, 26 percent said they looked for programs to address depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems, and 89 percent said they found what they were looking for.

“That is absolutely excellent compared to what we see in other counties,” Ms. Ward said.

Not all of the results were positive.

Wood County Health Commissioner Pamela Butler said she was disturbed by the growing number of people — adults and adolescents — who abuse prescription medication. 

Ten percent of adults and 11 percent of adolescents reported using someone else’s prescription or taking more medication than was prescribed to feel good, to feel high, or to feel more alert during the past six months.

The statistics involving youth sexual behavior also concerned her, she said. Of youths who said they were sexually active, 22 percent reported first having sex at age 13.

The study was conducted through mail-in surveys of adults and parents of young children and by in-school surveys of youth in grades 6-12.

The Wood County Health District and Wood County Hospital split the cost of the $67,000 study, which will be used to help local agencies write grants and gear their services to health needs in the county.

“Our goal is to put programming in place that will make a difference,” Ms. Butler said.

Tom Clemons, executive director of the Wood County Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services, was among those listening to the presentation.

“This is helpful for several reasons,” he said. “One is it puts mental health in the context of overall physical health, and we have to be about integrating behavioral health care with our physical health care if we really care about serving our people.”

The complete report may be viewed online at toledoblade.com. 

Ms. Ward said health assessments from a number of Ohio counties where the hospital council conducts assessments are available on the council’s Web site, hcno.org.