Niagara Gazette

Columns

September 25, 2013

BRADBERRY: How'd we get so sick? Will we get well?

Niagara Gazette — I’m TRYING to scare you — it’s for your own benefit, read this!

Niagara County ranks 59th out of 62 counties in New York state in overall health outcomes; our residents have substantially higher mortality rates for cardiac diseases when compared to New York state averages.

Right now, compared to other counties with a similar number of residents, the average death rate in Niagara County for coronary heart disease is higher than that of Upstate New York. In fact, mortality rates for heart diseases are rising in Niagara County while the rates for New York state have decreased.

Obesity, long believed to be the culprit behind many chronic diseases, is a real challenge for Niagarans because it creates increased risk for both heart disease and diabetes, often resulting in premature death.

It is a particularly difficult challenge in poorer neighborhoods where too much grocery shopping is done at corner stores where often, the least healthy, most fattening foods are more available than fresh healthy alternatives.

And consider this, chronic diseases, considered the most preventable, account for seven of every 10 deaths in New York state. In Niagara County, 22.4 percent of adults over age 64 have been diagnosed with diabetes while the state average for diabetes diagnoses of adults over age 64 is 17.9 percent.

A closer look at the Niagara County Health Department’s Community Health Assessment (2010-2013) and other supporting data tells a startling story:

• 62.4 percent of residents are overweight or obese

• 36.4 percent of adults have high blood pressure

• 15 percent of residents are considered in poor or fair health

• 27.1 percent of residents smoke

• 27 percent of residents consider themselves obese

• 17 percent of residents consider their alcohol use as excessive

• 9 percent of residents are diabetic

• 16 percent of residents are uninsured

• 18 percent of residents believe there is inadequate social support

• 34 percent of children live in single‐parent households

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