Residents in poorer counties have fewer opportunities
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 12, 2015) — More than 2,800 deaths in Kentucky could be avoided each year if all residents had a fair chance to be healthy, states the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “County Health Rankings and Roadmaps” released this week. The annual report compares the health of residents by looking at health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.
The highest percentage of premature deaths are mostly in poorer Eastern Kentucky counties where there are fewer opportunities for healthier living, the report states. For example the report states that “nearly 38 percent of premature deaths in Owsley County could be avoided if Owsley residents had the opportunities of those in healthier counties.”
Health behaviors the report examines are: adult smoking; adult obesity, access to healthy food and food insecurity; physical inactivity; access to exercise opportunities; excessive drinking; alcohol-impaired deaths; sexually transmitted infections; and teen births. Clinical care consists of: uninsured population; access to primary care physicians, dentists and mental health providers; preventable hospital stays; diabetic monitoring; and mammography screening.
Social and economic factors are: high school graduation rates; college; unemployment; children in poverty; income equality; children in single-parent households; social associations; violent crime; and injury deaths. Physical environment includes: air pollution, drinking water violations; severe housing problems; driving alone to work; and long commutes.
The report states if all Kentuckians had the same health opportunities there would be:
- 169,000 fewer smokers
- 91,000 fewer obese adults
- 62,000 fewer uninsured residents
- 78,000 more adults ages 25 to 44 with an education beyond high school
- 27,000 fewer unemployed residents
- 62,000 fewer children living in poverty
- 8,600 fewer violent crimes
- 62,000 fewer households with severe housing problems