The Iowa Department of Public Health’s annual survey is out comparing the health of residents in 2013 with the previous year. Donald Shepherd oversees the survey. “There’s good news and there’s bad news. On the whole I think it was a little more bad than good, but there was a lot of both,” Shepherd says.
He says most of the changes from year-to-year are small ones. “The most extreme change I saw was in terms of leisure time physical activity, where there was a significant decrease in that — and I’m not sure why — but that showed up in the data,” according to Shepherd. “It gets frustrating sometimes when you put so much energy into trying to become the healthiest state, and some bad habits just keep dragging on.”
Shepherd says the health survey shows some other areas the state still needs to work on to achieve its goal. “Obesity continues to rise, we’ve seen this going on for several years and it continues to go on this year, our obesity/overweight rate is higher than it was in the past year, so it continues to go up,” Shepherd says. “We are high in binge drinking, although we were not much higher than we have been, but we are still among the top five states in the country in terms of binge drinking.”
The survey also found an increase in tobacco use after years of anti-smoking efforts. “Kind of sorry to see this as we’ve been working fairly hard to try and stem the increase,” Shepherd says. “…that’s not necessarily a trend that’s been going on for several years, since it was down last year that may just be a rebound. But it did go up from this year to last year,” Shepherd says.
There were positives in the report too. “Iowa’s generally good in terms of health insurance coverage, we are ranked in the top ten in terms of health insurance,” Shepherd says. “We are also fairly low in terms of current asthma.” Other positives saw percent of Iowans reporting being diagnosed with arthritis was lower, Iowa still has the highest percentage in the nation for people over the age of 65 getting a flu shot. The percent of Iowans age 65 and over who reported having a pneumonia shot increased, and Iowa is ranked among the top ten states in this category.
It’s officially called the “2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Annual Report,” and you can see it online at the Health Department’s website.