Smoking down in 2011, while diabetes, obesity rates climb

Following a national trend, Oregonians were nearly as healthy this year as they were in 2010, ending years of incremental increases to our overall wellbeing, according to a report released this month by the United Health Foundation.

Despite a sharp rise in adults classified as obese and those with diabetes, Oregonians' overall health is ranked 14 out of 50 in a state-by-state analysis from the annual America's Health Rankings report. Certain key factors weighed in the analysis, such as obesity and diabetes statistics, show a trend towards declining health, while other numbers, including a strong drop in the amount of smokers, even out the healthiness snapshot.

The number of smokers in Oregon dropped by 85,000 over the last 10 years, but 264,000 more people are obese and 59,000 more have diabetes.

The United Health Foundation has been gathering data on our nation's wellbeing in its America's Health Rankings report for 22 years. In that time, the group's findings have shown a year-by-year improvement in the overall health of Americans. That is until 2011.

United Health Foundation spokeswoman Jan Pennington said 2011 was the first year the report has shown a mostly flat change in the country's health. Throughout the 1990s she said the nation's health improved, based on certain measures, by around 1.5 percent each year. That uptick slowed in the last decade to about a 0.5 percent per-year improvement.

'Any improvement that we made as a nation in smoking, was offset by an increase in the number of people who are obese,' Pennington said.

Many blame the growing number of obese Americans for the rise in diabetes, particularly the largely preventable Type II classification. That is a startling reality, Pennington said. Since 2001, the number of people in the country with the chronic, and potentially deadly, disease has risen by 42.6 percent.

In 2011, 27.6 percent of adults in Oregon were obese, up from 23.6 percent in 2010.

Between 2002 to 2009, adults with diabetes in the state rose incrementally from 5.7 to 6.9 percent. In 2010, however that figure jumped to a record 8.2 percent of adults. It fell this year to 7.2 percent, the first decline since 2001.

The Oregon Legislature passed an emergency bill in 2007 that tasked the Oregon Department of Human Services with developing a strategic plan aimed at slowing the rate of

diabetes caused by obesity and other environmental factors, by 2010. Those efforts are continuing with a goal of reducing death rates related to diabetes by 2015.


Check out next week's Spotlight for a look at the health issues affecting us here in Columbia County.

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