Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

April 11, 2012

Lifestyle choices biggest factor in county health

CROSSVILLE — The National County Health Rankings find Cumberland County has made progress in mortality and morbidity, but still has work to do in lifestyle choices that affect health.

The county was ranked 39th overall out of Tennessee's 95 counties. In morbidity, which includes percentage of population in poor or fair health, low birth weights and average number of days residents report having poor physical health or mental health days, the county saw significant improvement, increasing from 72nd in the state to 54th.

However, lifestyle choices, including smoking, obesity and teen birth rates show the county has room for improvement. The national benchmark for percent of adult smokers is 14 percent, while the Tennessee average is 24 percent. Cumberland County reports 21 percent of the adult population are smokers.

The motor vehicle crash death rate is 25 in Cumberland County, with the national benchmark set at 12 and the Tennessee average at 22.

The teen birth rate per 1,000 females age 15-19 is 66. The national benchmark is 22 and the Tennessee rate is 55 births per 1,000 females in that age range.

However, Cumberland County fares better than the state average in obesity, with 27 percent of adults reporting a Body Mass Index above 30 in Cumberland County. The state average is 32 percent. Excessive drinking, those reporting heavy drinking and binge drinking, is only 5 percent, while the national benchmark is 8 percent and the state average is 9 percent.

Clinical care increased in ranking from 41 to 15. Part of this is the high percentage of the population being screened for diabetes, 88 percent, and having regular mammograms, 76 percent.

Uninsured patients make up 19 percent of the population, with the national benchmark set at 11 percent and the state average at 19 percent.

Social and economic factors can also impact health, and Cumberland County ranked 34th in the state.  The county's violent crime rate is 348 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The state average is 713, while the national benchmark is 73. Also, 84 percent of the population are high school graduates, compared to the state average of 79 percent. Unemployment is at 10.7 percent, with the national benchmark at 5.4 percent and state unemployment rate at 9.7 percent. Thirty percent of Cumberland County children live in poverty, compared to 26 percent across the state. The national benchmark is 14 percent.

The county's ranking in physical environment decreased from last year's rankings, falling from 19 to 26. The county reported no air pollution-particulate days or air pollution-ozone days, and there is access to six recreational facilities, but 48 percent of the restaurant establishments in the community are considered fast food restaurants.

In a release from Cumberland Medical Center, Dr. Barry Wagner, CEO of Cumberland Medical Center, said, "We are focused on improving the overall health status of the communities we serve and this is a yardstick for our improvement. Community and corporate leaders, hospital board members and executive staff, and city/county officials came together last week to draft a new plan and we will continue to work together with the community in creative and innovative ways to improve health."


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