Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 10:10
The latest health survey of Wood County shows citizens are slimming down, taking good care of their teeth, smoking less and have good access to health care - but a larger percentage are lacking health insurance and are feeling more depressed than other Ohioans.
According to the health assessment released Tuesday, Wood Countians think of themselves as pretty health, with 62 percent of them rating their health status as excellent or very good. That is in contrast to 31 percent of those with lower household incomes, who describe their health as fair or poor.
However, the number of adults surveyed without health care coverage was 15 percent. That is nearly twice as many as during the last survey in 2008, when just 8 percent said they lacked health insurance.
On the positive side, fewer Wood County adults said they were overweight or obese than during the last survey four years ago. This year, 36 said they were overweight, while 30 percent said they were obese. That compares to 40 percent overweight and 30 percent obese in 2008.
The statistics also dropped for youths, who reported that 13 percent were obese and 11 percent overweight, compared to 16 percent obese and 11 percent overweight four years ago.
Also welcomed by health officials was the fact that 11 percent said they are current smokers and 23 percent are former smokers. That compares to 23 percent current and 33 percent former smokers in 2008.
In the area of mental health, 13 percent of Wood County adults reported they considered suicide at some time in their life. A reported 12 percent felt so sad almost every day for two or more weeks that they stopped doing usual activities.
The number of households with firearms increased, with 37 percent keeping a gun in or around the home, compared to 30 percent in 2008.
Dental health was a bright spot in the survey, with 74 percent of the adults visiting a dentist in the past year, and 82 percent of youths having been to a dentist.
The health survey, funded by the Wood County Health Department and Wood County Hospital, is intended to identify local health needs and help local agencies secure grant funding to respond to those needs, according to Wood County Health Commissioner Pam Butler.
"We want to make this report the beginning of change and a new health in Wood County," said Britney Ward, of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, which administered the survey. "A lot of these things are community issues."
That includes obesity - even though Wood Countians reported they were slimming down.
"We all know we need to focus on obesity. It's a major issue," Ward said.
The surveys were mailed out at random to Wood County households, along with a $2 bill to encourage the recipients to complete them and mail them back. It was determined that to be a representative sample, the survey would need responses from at least 383 adults, 374 adolescents and 370 children.
Ward pointed out that numbers such as those reporting a lack of health insurance will change if the nation's health care reform is fully implemented.
"These numbers are going to be extremely different," she said.
Among the youth surveyed, fewer reported engaging in risky behaviors - but those who are, are often starting much younger, Ward said.
Following are some other findings for adults in the survey:
• 30 percent of county adults have high blood pressure, and 31 percent high cholesterol.
• 8 percent of adults have diabetes.
• 27 percent have arthritis.
• 13 percent have asthma.
• 40 percent reported "binge drinking" in past month, which is defined as five or more drinks for a male and four or more for a woman on one occasion.
• 6 percent used marijuana in past six months.
• 66 percent of women over age 40 reported having mammogram this year.
• 54 percent of men over age 50 had a prostate-specific antigen test in the past year.
• 3 percent of adults were threatened or abused in the past year.
• Insects and mold were listed as the two greatest environmental health issues locally.
• 16 percent have a veteran in their household, while 7 percent were diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
Following are results from ages 12 to 18 in the youth survey:
• 11 percent of youth were smokers, compared to 15 percent in 2008.
• 48 percent of youth had at least one drink of alcohol in their life, increasing to 70 percent for those 17 and older. Forty percent who drank took their first drink at 12 years or younger.
• 12 percent had used marijuana in the last 30 days; 11 percent used medications that were not prescribed for them.
• 32 percent had sexual intercourse, increasing to 62 percent of those 17 and over.
• 9 percent had seriously considered suicide in the past year; 4 percent actually attempted suicide.
• 49 percent always wear a seatbelt in a car; 49 percent text while driving.
• 10 percent carried a weapon in the past month; while 20 percent had been in a physical fight in the past year.
• 42 percent had been bullied in the past year.
Following are some results from the children's section, answered by parents of children ages 0-12:
• 6 percent had been diagnosed with attention deficit problems.
• 3 percent did not have health insurance.
• 7 percent of the parents said they get help from food stamp program and 5 percent from the WIC nutritional health program.
• 90 percent of mothers got prenatal care within the first three month of their last pregnancy; 3 percent smoked during pregnancy; 26 percent did not breastfeed.
• 41 percent of the parents said their children were bullied in past year.
• 87 percent said their children participated in extra-curricular activities; 89 said their children exercise regularly; 16 percent said their children had Facebook or MySpace accounts.
• 20 percent of parents said they read to their children every day.
The complete results of the community health assessment can be found at www.co.wood.oh.us/healthdepartment.