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Lifestyles and poverty affect county health

By, Lacy Hilliard
Freelance Writer/Photographer

The University of Wisconsin Public Health Institute has teamed up with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in an effort to enlighten citizens about health standards all across the United States. They have organized statistical data by county in a manner that is meant to paint an overall portrait of contributing factors related to poor health. These findings also play an important role for government officials; the health department utilizes these findings to better serve the community and the numbers also influence the type and amount of grant money made available to the county for health related programs. Out of 95 counties in Tennessee, Johnson County’s rank is 66.
The statistics cite certain lifestyle choices as playing a vital role in overall health. The statistics show that a reported 26% of Johnson County residents are smokers and an astounding 32% of county residents are obese. Heart disease, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases are the leading causes of death in the United States. Heart disease and several types of cancer have been linked to obesity and smoking and 80-90% of patients diagnosed with chronic respiratory diseases are smokers.
The statistics show that 56% of restaurants in Johnson County are categorized as fast food establishments; thus contributing to the rise in obesity and diabetes. Fortunately, 82% of residents have taken advantage of free diabetic screening programs offered in the county.
Poor family planning was statistically a common theme. For every thousand female residents between the ages of 15-19, 66 of them gave birth, putting Johnson County’s teen birth rate at triple the national benchmark. The occurrence of low birth weight babies stands at 10.2% which is approximately 4% higher than the national benchmark. Single-parent households make up 28% of the county’s families.
For the complete story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.