2017-07-12 / Top News

Lee County tobacco use down, obesity up, assessment shows

Tobacco use and low birth weight measures in Lee County for the past three years are better than the averages in Florida and the U.S., but still slightly higher than goals set by Healthy Lee.

At the recent annual meeting of the Healthy Lee Steering committee, 38 community members reviewed the results of the 2017 Healthy Lee scorecard — a progress report of seven key goal areas for our community’s health. Scorecard data is derived from the Community Health Needs Assessment Report, a study conducted every three years to determine the health status, behaviors and needs of residents in Lee County, on behalf of Lee Health and Florida Department of Health in Lee County.

Compared to the previous reports of 2007, 2011 and 2014, the report showed improvements in some health issues, while other areas have stayed about the same, or degraded.

Despite a dip in Lee County’s obesity/overweight rate (body mass index less than 30) in the 2014 report, this year’s CHNA showed the obesity rate at 31.2 percent of our population — a 6.4 percent increase; also higher than the Florida and U.S. averages.

The rate of obesity is one of five indicators monitored for healthy lifestyles. Infant mortality — another indicator — has been better than the stated goal for the past decade, and is currently lower than the Florida average and meets the Healthy People 2020 goal — science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Other healthy lifestyles indicators monitored by Healthy Lee include low birth weight (8.1 percent) and prenatal care in the first trimester (63.4 percent).

“We can’t ever do enough; we are building a culture of health in our community,” said Robbie Roepstorff, chairman of the group for the past seven years. “You’re going to see highs and lows; we can’t ever take our foot off the pedal.”

Ms. Roepstorff turned over the chairman’s gavel to Gary Griffin, who will lead the group’s charge into the next decade. Accepting the new leadership position, Mr. Griffin commented, “I understand how much has been done, and how much is left to do.”

The Healthy Lee Steering Committee determined that more direct messaging to targeted audiences is required to make an impact on the reported numbers. The steering committee recommended the community priorities be behavioral health and healthy lifestyles going forward. An implementation plan is under review.

The full CHNA is available online at HealthyLee.com. ¦

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