By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Wood County residents continue to eat too much and exercise too little.
The most recent Community Health Assessment completed in 2018 reveals much about the health of local residents – from how often we eat our vegetables and exercise, to how many of us smoke and have chronic diseases.
The assessment, commissioned by the Wood County Health Partners, shows some improvements and some declines since the last survey taken in 2015.
One of the biggest challenges identified continues to be physical activity and nutrition.
Like the rest of the nation, the rates of the people who are overweight and obese continue to increase. More than 70 percent of Wood County residents ranked themselves as overweight, and nearly 40 percent of those said they qualified as obese. That compares to 30 percent nationwide.
While 55 percent of adults said they engaged in some type of physical activity at least 30 minutes on three or more days a week, 25 percent admitted to not exercising at all in the previous week of the survey.
Youth, however, reported an increase in physical activity from the last assessment in 2015.
The assessment also looked at mental health and addiction.
The results showed that childhood experiences can follow people throughout their lives and affect their health as they age. People who reported Adverse Childhood Experiences – such as physical or emotional abuse, depression or living with alcoholic parents – saw higher rates of health problems.
“On mental health and addiction, I think we were not surprised but interested to learn that there was such a significant link between childhood trauma and higher rates of things like mental health issues, bullying, stress, drug use and suicide,” stated Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator for the Wood County Health Department, one of the partners in the assessment.
The survey also showed the link between a person’s income and their health.
People with annual incomes lower than $25,000 had higher rates of chronic diseases like diabetes. They are less likely to see a doctor regularly and have screenings that can prevent health issues. And they are much more likely to put off health care, such as regular dental appointments.
Health partners, like the Wood County Health Department, have already started working on efforts to encourage people to increase physical activity and improve their diets.
A website, WoodCountyHealth.org/Activity, was created to highlight parks and other no-cost ways people can get more exercise. And a social media and advertising campaign was conducted last summer to motivate people to be more active and use free resources like parks.
But obstacles remain, with many residents listing their reasons for not being active as not having the time or energy, not enjoying exercise, and just being lazy.
Following are some results of the countywide health assessment:
Health insurance coverage
• 94% of adults had healthcare coverage
• 6% were without coverage. The top reasons uninsured adults gave for being without health care coverage were:
– They could not afford to pay the premiums (43%)
– They lost their job or changed employers (31%)
– Their employer does not offer/stopped offering (22%)
Going to the doctor
• 61% of Wood County adults visited a doctor for a routine checkup in the past year; Increasing to 84% of those over the age of 65
• 65% of adults went outside of Wood County for the following health care services in the past year:
• 71% of Wood County adults had visited a dentist or dental clinic in the past year; Decreasing to 36% of adults with incomes less than $25,000
How we rated our own health
• 52% of Wood County adults rated their health as excellent or very good; 14% as fair or poor
• Wood County adults were most likely to rate their health as fair or poor if they had an annual household income under $25,000 (38%)
Eating too much and exercising too little
• 72% of all Wood County adults were either overweight or obese by Body Mass Index
• 39% of adults were obese
• 55% of adults engaged in some type of physical activity at least 30 minutes on 3 or more days per week; 25% of adults did not participate in any physical activity in the past week
• 34% of adults ate between 1 to 2 servings of fruits and vegetables per day; 3% ate no servings of fruits and vegetables per day
Smoking, drinking and sex habits
• 11% of all Wood County adults were current smokers
• 23% were former smokers
• 68% of Wood County adults had at least one alcoholic drink in the past month
• 27% of all adults were binge drinkers
• Wood County adult drinkers consumed 2.7 drinks on average
• 7% of adults reported driving after having too much to drink
• 6% of Wood County adults had used marijuana in the past 6 months
• 2% of adults reported using other recreational drugs in the past 6 months such as cocaine, synthetic marijuana/K2, heroin, LSD, inhalants, Ecstasy, bath salts, and methamphetamines
• 4% of adults had used medication not prescribed for them or they took more than prescribed to feel good or high and/or more active or alert during the past 6 months; Increasing to 7% of those earning less than $25,000 and those over the age of 65
• 70% of Wood County adults had sexual intercourse in the past year
• 21% of Wood County adults did not use any method of birth control
• 14% of adults had a period of two or more weeks when they felt so sad or hopeless nearly every day that they stopped doing usual activities; Increasing to 31% those with incomes less than $25,000
• 2% of Wood County adults considered attempting suicide in the past year
• 11% of Wood County adults used a program or service for themselves or a loved one to help with depression, anxiety, or emotional problems.
• 3% of Wood County adults reported they had survived a heart attack; Increasing to 10% of those over the age of 65
• 2% of adults reported they had survived a stroke; Increasing to 7% of those over the age of 65
• 5% of adults reported they had angina or coronary heart disease; Increasing to 16% of those over the age of 65
• 35% were diagnosed with high blood pressure
• 32% were diagnosed with high blood cholesterol
• 14% of Wood County adults were diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives; Increasing to 35% of those over the age of 65
• 28% of Wood County adults were told by a health professional that they had some form of arthritis; Increasing to 62% of those over the age of 65
• 15% of Wood County adults had been diagnosed with asthma; Increasing to 19% of those over the age of 65
• 8% of Wood County adults were diagnosed with diabetes; Increasing to 24% of those over the age of 65
Other issues we face
• 38% of reported they were limited in some way because of a physical, mental or emotional problem
• 9% of adults experienced at least one of the following food insecurity issues in the past year: Had to choose between paying bills and buying food (6%); Worried food might run out (3%); Their food assistance was cut (3%); Went hungry/ate less to provide more food for their family (3%); Did not eat because they did not have enough money for food (3%); Loss of income led to food insecurity issues (3%)
• 12% of adults were threatened in the past year. They were threatened by the following: A spouse or partner (22%); Another family member (22%); Parent (19%); Caregiver (19%); Someone else (19%)
• 2% of adults were abused in the past year. Of those who were abused, they reported it was by their spouse or partner
• 11% of Wood County adults had at least one transportation issue.
• 38% of Wood County adults kept a firearm in or around their home; 6% of adults reported they were unlocked and loaded
• Wood County adults reported experiencing the following situations as result of gambling: Gambled another day to try to win back the money they lost (2%); Bet more than they could afford to lose (1%); Felt they might have a problem with gambling (1%)
YOUTH IN WOOD COUNTY
Overweight and under-exercised
• 16% of Wood County youth were classified as obese by BMI
• 30% described themselves as being slightly or very overweight
• 45% of all youth were trying to lose weight; Increasing to 61% of females (compared to 37% of males)
• During the past week, youth participated in at least 60 minutes of physical activity at the following frequencies: 3 or more days (78%); 5 or more days (54%); Every day (31%)
• 10% of youth did not participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on any day in the past week
Smoking among youths
• 14% of Wood County youth had tried smoking at some time in their life; Increasing to 28% of those ages 17 and older
• 3% of youth were current smokers
• The average age of onset for smoking was 13.3 years old
• Current smokers got their cigarettes from the following: Borrowed (or bummed) cigarettes from someone else (30%); A person 18 years or older gave them the cigarettes (26%); Bought cigarettes from a store such as a convenience store, supermarket, discount store, or gas station (26%); Got them some other way (26%); Took them from a family member (7%)
Alcohol use among youths
• 38% of youth have had at least one drink of alcohol in their lifetime; Increasing to 62% of those ages 17 and older
• The average age of onset was 13.6 years old
• 15% had at least one drink in the past month (current drinker); Increasing to 27% of those ages 17 and older
• Based on all youth, 7% were binge drinkers; 46% of those who drank had an episode of binge drinking in the past month
• During the past month, 12% of all Wood County youth had ridden in a car driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol
• Current drinkers got their alcohol from the following: Someone gave it to them (36%); Someone older bought it (25%); A parent gave it to them (22%); An older friend or sibling bought it to them (13%); Took it from a store or family member (8%); A friend’s parent gave it to them (5%); Bought it with a fake ID (1%); Some other way (32%)
Marijuana use among youth
• 9% of Wood County youth had used marijuana in the past month; Increasing to 19% of those over the age of 17
• 5% of Wood County youth used medications that were not prescribed for them or took more than prescribed to feel good or get high at some time in their lives; Increasing to 8% of those over the age of 17
• 6% of all Wood County youth reported that someone had offered, sold, or given them an illegal drug on school property within the past year
Youths having sex
• 20% of Wood County youth have had sexual intercourse; Increasing to 47% of those ages 17 and over
• 20% of youth had participated in oral sex; Increasing to 45% of those ages 17 and over
• 5% of youth had participated in anal sex; Increasing to 15% of those ages 17 and over
• 21% of youth had participated in sexting; Increasing to 35% of those ages 17 and over
• 26% of youth had viewed pornography; Increasing to 34% of males and 41% of those ages 17 and over
• 17% of sexually active youth had four or more partners
• 9% of youth reported drinking alcohol or using drugs before they had sexual intercourse
• The average age of onset was 15.1 years old
Sadness and stress among youths
• 27% of youth reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 weeks or more in a row; Increasing to 37% of females
• 19% of youth reported they had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year
• 5% attempted suicide and 3% made more than one attempt in the past year
• Youth reported the following caused them anxiety, stress or depression: Academic success (47%); Self-image (33%); Fighting with friends (32%); Other stress at home (29%); Sports (29%); Death of a close family member or friend (29%); Peer pressure (26%); Fighting at home (24%); Dating relationship (21%); A breakup (20%); Being bullied (18%),
Youths behind the wheel
• Wood County youth drivers did the following while driving in the past month: Wore a seatbelt (87%); Ate (38%); Talked on their cell phone (36%); Drove while tired or fatigued (30%); Texted (25%); Used their cell phone other than for talking or texting (23%); Reading (3%); Applied makeup (2%); Drank alcohol (2%); Misused prescription drugs (1%); Used marijuana (5%); Used illegal drugs (2%)
• 40% had more than one distraction while driving
Youths being bullied
• 37% of youth had been bullied in the past year. The following types of bullying were reported:
– 27% of youth were verbally bullied (teased, taunted or called harmful names)
– 24% of youth were indirectly bullied (spread mean rumors about them or kept them out of a “group”)
– 12% of youth were cyber bullied (teased, taunted or threatened by e-mail or cell phone)
– 7% of youth were physically bullied (were hit, kicked, punched or people took their belongings)
– 2% of youth were sexually bullied (used nude or semi-nude pictures to pressure someone to have sex that did not want to, blackmail, intimidate, or exploit another person)
• 9% of youth had carried a weapon (such as a gun, knife or club) in the past 30 days
• 2% of youth reported a boyfriend or girlfriend hit, slapped, or physically hurt them on purpose in the past 12 months
• 21% of youth had been involved in a physical fight; 10% had been in a fight on more than one occasion
• 23% of youth purposefully hurt themselves by cutting, scratching, burning, hitting or biting
CHILDREN IN WOOD COUNTY
Rate of overweight kids
• 22% of children were classified as obese by BMI calculations
• 16% of children were classified as overweight
• 25% of Wood County children ate 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables per day; 3% ate 0 servings per day
Getting vaccines and dental care
• 6% of children did not get all their recommended vaccinations
• 80% of children had been to the dentist in the past year; Increasing to 93% of 6 to 11 year olds
Other child issues
• 99% of Wood County parents definitely or somewhat agreed their child was safe at school
• 35% of parents reported that every family member who lived in their household ate a meal together every day of the week; Families ate a meal together an average of 5 times per week
• 3% of parents reported that at least one person in the household went to bed hungry at least one day per week because they did not have enough money for food