Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) today released a health status report titled "Working Together for a Healthier Kansas," in order to outline strategies for reducing differences in infant mortality, obesity rates, tobacco use, nutrition and access to medical care among racial and ethnic communities in Kansas.
"Our behaviors and lifestyles can directly impact our health, which leads to an important role of individual responsibility," stated Dr. David R. Williams of Harvard University. "Factors such as adequate income, education, housing and neighborhoods, nutrition, stress, social support, personal behavior and medical care have all been shown to influence health."
KDHE and Williams collaborated to create the report. Williams is an internationally recognized authority on social influences on health.
The report recommends increased advocacy, awareness and teamwork by health agencies and other groups to increase positive health outcomes in Kansas. According to the report, these efforts must involve schools, workplaces, communities and churches and other institutions to ensure commitment and accountability toward the goal of improved public health.
Specific instances of racial and ethnic differences in health are also highlighted. For example, if the Caucasian citizens of Kansas were taken as an individual state, that state would rank seventh in the U.S. in its infant mortality rate. By contrast, considering the African American citizens of Kansas as an individual state, such a state would be tied for 50th for infant mortality.
In another finding, the report notes that the highest category of annual stroke death rates among white men over the age of 35 (133-146 deaths per 100,000 men yearly) is lower than the lowest category of these death rates among black men in that same age group (163-181 deaths per 100,000 men yearly).
Other findings of the report include:
The highest risk of high blood pressure is found in the lowest levels of income and education.
As levels of education and income increase, the chances of being physically inactive and depressed declines.
To review the report, go to www.healthdisparitiesks.org/.