LOUISVILLE, Ky (Sept. 7, 2017) About eight in 10 adults in the Eastern Kentucky area are physically active, which puts them on par with state average, but only 20 percent eat the recommended amount of both fruits and vegetables, according to a Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) special report on the region.
KHIP is funded jointly by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Cincinnati-based Interact for Health. The findings have been divided into five regional reports (Eastern Kentucky, Greater Lexington, Greater Louisville, Northern Kentucky, and Western Kentucky), available online at www.healthy-ky.org.
According to the Eastern Kentucky report, 71 percent of adults from this 46-county region say it’s easy in their neighborhoods to purchase healthy foods – such as whole-grain items, low-fat options and fruits and vegetables – about the same as the proportion who say that from the entire state. The federal guidelines suggest that half of each plate be made up of vegetables and fruits. Yet just 14 percent of area adults meet the vegetable guideline, and only 22 percent get enough fruit.
Those rates vary slightly from the state as a whole: 12 percent of Kentuckians overall meet the vegetable recommendation and 25 percent get enough fruits.
When asked about their level of physical activity, 81 percent of Eastern Kentucky area adults said they were very or somewhat physically active, about the same as the state average of 79 percent. Yet adults from Eastern Kentucky rated both the condition of their sidewalks and road shoulders, and the safety of their neighborhoods for walking or biking, significantly lower than the state as a whole. For example, 71 percent of adults in the region said their neighborhoods were somewhat or very safe for exercise, compared to 81 percent of adults statewide. And 35 percent of area residents rated the condition of their sidewalks and shoulders as good or better, while 51 percent of Kentuckians on average rated such areas that highly.
“Kentucky is facing a serious obesity issue, and part of the answer is enacting policies that ensure healthier choices are readily available, easy to find and priced comparably to unhealthy choices,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “Some counties in this region have an obesity rate as high as 46 percent. Access to fresh, healthy foods at affordable prices, and safe, well-maintained places to exercise can help area residents adopt new habits that will significantly improve their health and reduce health care costs.”
The Perry County Wellness Coalition is using funding and support from the Foundation to address childhood obesity through policy and built environment changes. For example, the Coalition’s Kids on the Move! program launched Carrot Cash, which provides farmer’s market vouchers to low-income families so they can purchase healthy foods. Also, the Coalition helped get standing desks installed in both Hazard Middle School and Robinson Elementary, and provided professional development for teachers on classroom redesign to help encourage more physical activity.
In Breathitt County, another Foundation grantee – the Breathitt Health Planning Council for Children – purchased refrigerated water filling stations for local school districts as part of a “Rethink Your Drink” campaign to encourage students to switch to drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
The Clinton County Healthy Hometown Coalition developed the Bus Stop Café to provide healthy food to children from low-income families this summer. This Foundation grantee also has launched a social marketing campaign focused on healthy physical activity and nutrition habits.
KHIP was conducted Sept. 11, 2016, through Oct. 19, 2016, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 1,580 adults from throughout Kentucky was interviewed by telephone, including landlines and cell phones. The poll has a margin of error of ±2.5 percent (Eastern Kentucky ±5.4 percent). The survey instrument and data tables are found here. The codebooks and data files are at http://www.oasisdataarchive.org.
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested nearly $26.7 million in health policy research and advocacy, as well as demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth. Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.
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Bonnie J. Hackbarth