Morrow County children who go to bed hungry; an adult obesity rate of 41 percent; and the young age that the youth begin using alcohol and drugs; are three of the health factors that concerned the Morrow County Work Group on Health Assessment.
Officials from 26 county agencies, school districts and businesses were in attendance to hear the presentation of the 2016 Morrow County Community Health Assessment Report prepared by the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio (HCNO) in cooperation with the Morrow County Health District.
Much of the final report came from information given in surveys of 793 residents in Morrow County. Those people include 445 adults and 348 youth who answered survey questions and returned their surveys. The report includes 152 pages of data on numerous health factors including cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, weight, tobacco alcohol and drug use and access to health care.
Britney Ward and staff of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio (HCN) presented the report. The HCNO group has worked with more than 30 counties in Ohio and Michigan in preparing health assessment reports. Ward mentioned several health statistics that were surprising when compared with other rural county statistics and with Ohio numbers.
Ward noted that 92 percent of Morrow County adults went out of the county for some type of health care coverage in 2015/16. 41 percent left the county for vision care, 44 percent for primary care and 49 percent for dental services. Only 35 percent left the county for specialty care. She said those numbers are reversed in most rural counties surveyed with the largest numbers going out of the county for specialty care.
The survey identified 76 percent of Morrow County adults as overweight or obese. 41 percent of those were identified as obese compared to 33 percent in Ohio. The weight statistics were based on Body Mass Index (BMI) numbers of weight to height ratio. While those attending the meeting agreed that overweight is a problem in Morrow County, they questioned whether limiting findings exclusively to BMI is a good idea – especially for youth.
18 percent of Morrow County youth were classified as obese compared to 13 percent in Ohio and 15 percent were classified as overweight compared to 16 percent in Ohio. 46 percent of all youth surveyed were trying to lose weight and that increased to 56 percent of female youth trying to lose weight.
The work group found the reliance on BMI numbers especially troubling when communicating with youth. Joanne Trainer RN pointed out that some athletes’ build would be likely to show as more weight when they are in fact in good health.
One big surprise and concern of the group was that nine percent of youth reported going to bed hungry at least one day a week because their family didn’t have the money for food at least one night per week. Ward pointed out that in real numbers of the 3,600 youth in the county; it means that more than 300 go to bed at night hungry one day a week.
Another disturbing fact for the group was that 12 percent of Morrow County youth reported chewing tobacco. That number, said Ward, is almost double other rural counties.
Morrow County Health Commissioner, Pam Butler said the next step will be “putting all the statistics and findings together to measure how we are making a difference for the community’s health.”
Priorities chosen for action by the Work Group include: 1. Adult and youth obesity 2. Adult and Youth Access to Care; 3. Adult and Youth Substance Abuse; 4.Adult and Youth Mental Health. Action Steps were also identified by both the Work Group and HCNO.
The entire 2016 Health Assessment Report for Morrow County is available at the Health Department website: www.morrowcountyhealth.org and click on 2016 Community Health Assessment.
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