(LOUISVILLE, Ky - January 10, 2017) Obesity, cancer and problems with health insurance or health care comprise three of the top four issues Kentucky adults think are the most important health concerns facing men, women and children in the Commonwealth, according to the first report of the Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) to be released this year. Hunger and malnutrition was the other top-four issue for children, while heart disease made the top-four lists for both men and women.
"One in four adults said obesity was biggest health issue for Kentucky's children, and they're right," said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. "Unhealthy weights during childhood lead to a myriad of chronic conditions in adulthood, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and bone and joint problems. We've made some progress with our youngest children, but Kentucky ranks near the bottom, 40th out of 43 states reporting, for high school student obesity rates."
KHIP is funded jointly by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health in Cincinnati.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity rates have been climbing for Kentucky high school students (18.5 percent in 2015 compared to 16.5 percent in 2011) and adults (34.6 percent in 2015; 30.4 percent in 2011), but declining slightly for children ages two to four (13.5 percent in 2015; 15.6 percent in 2011). The Foundation has focused on childhood obesity by providing funding, training and technical assistance to six community health coalitions working on the issue in Kentucky under its Investing in Kentucky's Future initiative.
At the same time, many of Kentucky's children live in homes where they might not have enough to eat, and that issue is reflected by the 6 percent of respondents who listed hunger and malnutrition as a top-four issue for children. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 23 percent of Kentucky children live in food-insecure households.
Cancer and heart disease ranked first and second, respectively, for the top health concerns for men and women. Cancer and heart disease are leading causes of death for both Kentucky men and women, according to the CDC.
Since the last time KHIP asked about the most important health issues facing Kentuckians in 2010, mentions of concerns about health insurance and health care have grown substantially. About 10 percent of respondents said health insurance and health care problems were an important issue for each population in 2016, compared to 4 percent for women, 2 percent for men, and 2 percent for children in 2010. Hunger and malnutrition are also moving up the scale of concern; these issues were raised by 6 percent of respondents in 2016, compared to less than 1 percent in 2010.
KHIP is an annual telephone poll of Kentucky adults about a variety of topical health matters. This latest KHIP was conducted between Sept. 11 and Oct. 19, 2016, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati, which interviewed a random sample of 1,580 adults from throughout Kentucky. A copy of the report is available here. The Foundation will release additional KHIP reports on a regular basis through early June 2017.
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $26 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 care needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing health 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.
Bonnie J. Hackbarth