Survey: 60 percent of Washtenaw County residents are obese or overweight
The findings are part of the county’s Health Improvement Plan survey, which it has conducted every five years since 1995. The health department plans to release 2010 data online within the next two weeks, said Keven Mosley-Koehler, a senior health analyst for the health department and the coordinator of the HIP survey.
The local findings will help determine where the county should focus its dollars and its energy in the future, Mosley-Koehler said. Residents will be able to look within the data to see how their communities fare in areas such as smoking, life expectancy, drug use and other areas.
The latest data show 26 percent of county residents are obese, up from 18 percent in 2005, said Susan Cerniglia, a public information officer for the health department. The county uses body mass index - the measure of body fat based on height and weight - to determine whether an individual is obese or overweight. Obese individuals have a BMI over 30, while overweight individuals have a BMI between 25 and 29.9. Mosley-Koehler said about 32 percent of individuals were overweight in 2005.
The county fares better than the rest of the state; two-thirds of Michigan residents are either obese are overweight, according to a 2010 report by the Michigan Department of Community Health. Nearly one-third of Michigan residents are obese.
The state’s sample size is not large enough to generate a detailed overview of health in Washtenaw County, Mosley-Koehler said. The local overview reviews disparities, she said, which often fall along the lines of income, education levels and other factors.
In 2005, about 25 percent of respondents from Ypsilanti were obese compared with a 22 percent rate for the rest of the county, the data show.
Using data from the 2005 HIP survey, public health officials created programs to increase the consumption of healthy foods and created partnerships aimed at increasing recreational opportunities in Ypsilanti, for example, she said.
Numbers released with the 2010 HIP survey data may reveal whether those programs moved the needle on the obesity epidemic locally.
“Communities can be designed in such a way that help individuals make healthy over unhealthy choices,” she said.
Nonprofit organizations use the data to improve public health, applying for grants based on health disparities that come to light because of the figures. The most recent survey costs $100,000 to administer, said Sharon P. Sheldon, the program administrator for the health promotion disease prevention division at Public Health.
Public Health kicked in $30,000, while partner organizations including the University of Michigan, St. Joseph Mercy Health System, Chelsea Community Hospital, Thompson Reuters and the Chelsea Area Wellness Foundation picked up the rest of the firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter