Results from Summit Health’s most recent Community Health Needs Assessment are in, and the data is alarming.

Nearly three-quarters of adults in Franklin County – and about 20 percent of the county’s children in kindergarten through sixth grades – are considered “overweight” or “obese” by Body Mass Index standards. Just 3 percent of residents consume three servings of vegetables a day.

“Diet, exercise, obesity and mental health issues affect large numbers of Franklin County residents,” said Berwood A. Yost, director of Franklin & Marshall’s Center for Opinion Research and Floyd Institute for Public Policy.

Yost led the research effort for the CHNA. A public release of findings event was held Wednesday for residents and community health stakeholders interested in identifying barriers to health and ways they can collaborate to address them.

He noted that while the data points to improvements in heart disease and dental care, Franklin County does not meet 21 of 30 Healthy People 2020 objectives that can be tracked.

Healthy People 2020 is a science-based, 10-year initiative of the federal government that establishes topics of concern and corresponding benchmarks to monitor the progress of improving health, nationally.

“Unfortunately, the improvements are far outweighed by the negative trends. Few residents regularly exercise and hardly anyone eats three vegetables a day,” he said. “Many people eat fast food three times a week.”

In addition, data suggested large income disparities among minority races and ethnicities.

“These vast disparities have implications on health. These disparities have persisted despite the county median household income going up.”

Ann Spottswood, director of community services, addressed the community members who attended Wednesday’s session, noting their roles in improving the health of Franklin County.

“You are the ones who do it. A lot of people will say, ‘That’s not my problem.’ Well, you are the doers … (and) increasingly, we know that health happens in the community,” Spottswood said. “If you want to change behavior, you change the environment.”

Barb Rossini, vice president for planning and community relations, explained the need for a greater collective approach and said real change would require changes to policies.

“A healthy community isn’t just about a health system and hospitals. A lot of these issues aren’t things we can change on the ground.”

What’s next?

Conducted every three years, data from the CHNA is used to identify strengths, gaps and opportunities to better meet local health needs and guides the development of a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). Once developed, the CHIP will direct the county’s implementation of health-related programs and initiatives over the next few years.

“The CHNA helps us determine what our residents need in terms of health care and community resources so that we, along with our community partners, can collaborate by offering programs to meet those needs,” explained Rossini.

In-depth details from the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment will be available online in the next few weeks at: www.SummitHealth.org/CHNA and www.HealthyFranklinCounty.org

 

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