A recent health study conducted in Ross County and compiled at Miami University revealed interesting and startling trends regarding the health of some Ohio citizens.
Among the most noteworthy statistics, according to Rami Yoakum, director of communications for the Ross County Health District, is the obesity rate. Forty-four percent of those who participated in the survey reported being obese, which is higher than both the state average, 29.2 percent and the national average, 33.8 percent, according to Yoakum.
While Yoakum attributes this fact to the overall failure of people to exercise and maintain healthy eating habits, he also suspects that the data may be skewed due to sampling error.
“I walk around here every day and I can see that people are overweight, but nearly half is higher than I would guess,” Yoakum said.
Sampling error is very possible, according to Darlene Campbell, assistant to the director of the Applied Research Center on Miami University’s Middletown Campus, who compiled the report. The researchers were expecting around 3,000 responses, but received less than 1,000, according to Campbell.
Even considering this low turnout, some results were enough to raise eyebrows. For example, 22 percent responded that they could not afford to go to a doctor when they felt they needed to in the last 12 months.
“Any time you have a health problem and you don’t address it, that just leads to long-term health problems and a sign that our community as a whole is not very healthy,” Yoakum said.
Campbell also intimated concern over some of the health questions raised in this survey. She noted that 44 percent of respondents had not had a routine checkup in more than five years and 2 percent had never had one.
“This is a real cause for concern because prevention is the best treatment,” Campbell said.
Katie Lindauer, a junior pre-med major at Miami, is not surprised by the high rates of obesity.
“It’s a really impressive trend in the medical world right now and it’s causing a big stir,” she said. “It’s unfortunate because obesity isn’t so much an issue itself, it’s the other health issues like diabetes that are caused by obesity that are the real problem, and it’s a huge epidemic in Ohio.”
Lindauer also said the growing issues with health care coverage are causing a strain on the health system.
“It’s causing people to go to the emergency room more because they treat you whether or not you have insurance. So, instead of scheduling a doctors’ appointment, people wait until they’re really sick and go to the emergency room,” Lindauer said. “This causes overcrowding at ERs, and is a really bad problem for the health system.”
Other statistics listed in the report included:
28 percent do not have dental insurance
more than 16 percent have no health care coverage
only 27 percent reported using condoms to prevent STDs and STIs
13 percent had been diagnosed with an STD or STI at some time
23 percent reported smoking tobacco, and of those who smoked, 1/3 indicated they had tried to quit in the last 12 months.
Yoakum indicated that the Ross County Health District would make efforts to address automobile safety. The survey found that 20 percent of respondents admitted to texting while driving and the same amount reported not wearing a seatbelt while driving.
Yoakum noted that Ross County has a program through Ohio Public Safety for some awareness programs regarding the dangers of drunk and distracted driving and driving without a seatbelt.
Campbell’s recommendations regarding the survey included developing programs to address the needs of those without healthcare coverage and dental insurance. She suggested finding ways to increase physical activity, encourage condom use, and locate funding to assist citizens with smoking cessation.
Campbell also noted that due to the way the survey was conducted, the results could not be generalized to the public as a whole.
The full report is now available online at www.rosscountyhealth.com.