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Community health survey: We’re fat

Tom Jackson • Jan 30, 2014 at 6:50 AM

A lot of us admit that we are fat.

That’s one of the bits of information in the new community health survey that’s just been issued by the Erie County Health Department. Every three years, the department sends out questionnaires and compiles the answers into a report.

The new report, released last week, shows 74 percent of Erie County adults describe themselves as overweight or obese. It says 44 percent of the county’s adults are trying to lose weight.

The obesity numbers aren’t shocking, because in fact they are high in every Ohio county, said Britney Ward, director of community health improvement for the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio.

“The interesting thing about that is, it is probably underreported” Ward said.

Ward spends much of her time on the road, helping counties prepare their community health assessments. She has worked on reports in Erie, Sandusky, Huron and Ottawa counties. Huron County’s report is being worked on right now.

Erie County youths who answered the survey reported that 30 percent of them text while driving. That’s a big improvement over past results and, in fact, risky youth behaviors in Erie County have fallen, Ward said.

Before any laws banned texting while driving — it’s now illegal statewide — “around 80 percent of the kids were texting and driving” Ward said.

Erie County’s health department uses the results to figure out what officials should be working on, said Pete Schade, the county’s health commissioner.

Past surveys persuaded the health department to open a dental clinic last year, with four dental chairs serving people who weren’t getting dental care, Schade said.

The new survey shows an unmet need for mental health care and treatment for addictions. The health department is now trying to set up a program to meet that need, he said.

Schade hopes the report will be useful to agencies in Erie County applying for grant money.

“The health assessment is intended not only for the health department but for any individual or any group in Erie County to use the data” he said.

“That data is bona fide data that is recognized by a lot of the funding groups nationally and across the state and locally,” he said. “You would be able to use this data to submit to a funder”

Want to read the report?

• The new Erie County Community Health Assessment for 2013 has been posted at the health department’s website, eriecohealthohio.org. Past reports for other counties in the area are available from the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio website, www.hcno.org  .

How are we doing? Facts from the new health survey

• 31 percent of adults have high blood pressure, 35 percent have high blood cholesterol, 38 percent are obese and 21 percent smoke. All are risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

• 14 percent of adults have been diagnosed with cancer. q 10 percent of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes.

• 74 percent of Erie County adults are overweight or obese.

• 15 percent of Erie County adults are frequent drinkers.

• 7 percent of Erie County adults used marijuana in the past six months, while 8 percent used a drug not prescribed for them to get high or feel good.

• 57 percent of Erie County women over 40 had a mammogram in the past year. q 52 percent of Erie County males over 50 had a PSA (prostate)Ho test in the past year.

• Two-thirds of Erie County adults had sex in 2013.

• 2 percent of Erie County adults considered attempting suicide in 2013. 10 percent had a period of two or more weeks when they felt depressed nearly every day.

• 62 percent of Erie County adults visited the dentist in the past year.

• 18 percent of African-Americans had diabetes in 2013 while 47 percent had high blood pressure.

• 8 percent of Erie County youth are smokers.

• 11 percent of Erie County youth used marijuana within the past 30 days.

• 30 percent of youth drivers texted while driving.

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