Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
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Lucas County health survey shows obesity up, smoking down

Lucas County residents have made some health improvements in terms of chronic illness and rates of insurance coverage, but several wellness-related concerns persist, according to a new report released Monday.

The 2016/2017 Lucas County Community Health Assessment looked at data such as tobacco use, eating habits, and physical activity in Lucas County adults and youth, as well as specific information about the county’s African American and Latino population.

It is a triennial effort by Healthy Lucas County, a collaboration of area health organizations coordinated by the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio.

Uninsured adults in Lucas County fell to 6 percent, down from 14 percent in 2014 when the last survey was published. There was also good news for figures such as rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, which all decreased or held steady for the overall adult population.

Increasing, however, was the rate of overweight or obese adults: 74 percent in 2017, up from 70 percent in 2014. That number was higher for African Americans, at 85 percent, and 80 percent for Latinos. Twenty-four percent of youths in grades 6-12 were overweight or obese, according to the 2017 report. 

“The cardiovascular diseases, that was an area of focus for this county. We have been working on it for years,” said Britney Ward, director of community health improvement at the hospital council. “And to see, other than obesity, to see diabetes, asthma, blood pressure, none of those things went up. That was huge.”

Officials also lauded a drop in residents who currently smoke: 14 percent of adults are current smokers, compared with 19 percent in 2014. Smoking rates were higher for Latinos and African Americans than the overall county. 

Community leaders will meet over the next several months to develop the 2018-2020 Community Health Improvement Plan. Setting county-wide priories can lead to broader gains in community health, said Jan Ruma, hospital council vice president. 

Officials will try to align county priorities with the state’s health improvement plan, which identifies three priorities of mental health and addiction, maternal and infant health, and chronic disease, Ms. Ruma said. 

“Programs are really important but it is the system and policy changes that create lasting change. One area you can see that is the decrease in smoking rates," she said, pointing to efforts such as Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority’s to make its residences smoke free. 

In the youth report, the data indicates 3 percent of youth in grades 6-12 identified as current smokers, but vaping or using e-cigarettes is a rising concern. Twelve percent of surveyed youths seriously considered a suicide attempt in the last year; 7 percent had attempted suicide. Three percent of adults had considered suicide in the last year.

The findings were publicized Monday in two events at the Main Library. A presentation about the health of Lucas County’s African American and Latino residents will be 9 a.m. Tuesday at Neighborhood Health Association’s Nexus Health Care, 1415 Jefferson Ave. 

The full report is available at http://www.healthylucascounty.org.

Contact Lauren Lindstrom at llindstrom@theblade.com, 419-724-6154, or on Twitter @lelindstrom.

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