LOUISVILLE, Ky (Sept. 7, 2017) About eight in 10 adults in Northern Kentucky area are physically active, which puts them on par with state average, but only 24 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 Northern Kentucky report, nine in 10 Northern Kentucky adults say it’s easy in their neighborhoods to purchase healthy foods – such as whole-grain items, low-fat options and fruits and vegetables – compared to eight in 10 statewide. The federal guidelines suggest that half of each plate be made up of vegetables and fruits. Yet just 7 percent of Northern Kentucky adults meet the vegetable guideline, and only 37 percent get enough fruit.

Those rates vary somewhat 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, 79 percent of Northern Kentucky adults said they were very or somewhat physically active. Part of the reason may be that they have more safe places such as sidewalks to walk, job and bike. For example, 58 percent of Northern Kentucky adults said their neighborhoods were very safe for exercise, compared to 46 percent of adults statewide. And 61 percent of northern Kentuckians rated the condition of their sidewalks and shoulders as good or better, while only 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 35 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.”

Fitness for Life Around Grant County, a local health coalition, is using grant funding and other support from the Foundation to address childhood obesity through policy and built environment changes. For example, the Coalition has helped enact “complete streets” policies in four cities and the County that will help ensure future projects will be planned and designed from the start for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities (see news release). And it worked toward the adoption by the City of Williamstown of a Healthy Food Policy Resolution to support access to healthier foods in city vending machines and elsewhere.

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 (Northern Kentucky ±5.5 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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Angela Koch