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The Sound of Ideas

What Determines Health? Location, Location, Location

Posted Friday, February 19, 2010

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What Determines Health? Location, Location, Location A lot of things affect your health, including, remarkably, your zip code. A new report lists Geauga and Medina counties as having many of the healthiest residents in Ohio. Cuyahoga County? Not so much. It ranks near the bottom even though it has world-class health care facilities? So what’s the difference? Rankings show the healthiest folks live in areas where people are more educated, breathe clean air, eat fresh produce and are more likely to work outdoors. How do you transform an unhealthy community into a healthy one? There is a lot of consensus on what needs to happen; though it's not exactly apparent where to begin and how to get the right people at the table. Pull up a chair and share your thoughts, Friday morning at 9 on 90.3.




Terry Allan, Commissioner, Cuyahoga County Board of Health & Board President of Association of Ohio Health Commissioners
Lisa Frazier, Research Specialist, Health Policy Institute of Ohio
Dr. Patrick Remington, Associate Dean for Public Health, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin

Additional Information

Check out the overall rankings & the 2010 Health Outcomes Map for Ohio
Learn more about the four regional workshops designed to help community leaders address the multiple factors that influenced the 2009 County Health Rankings Report

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eapardee 7:59 AM 2/19/10

This is an example of an illusionary correlation—taking two things that happen at the same time and assigning causality.  Let’s look at other factors, like poverty and access to health insurance, that are much more important.

Marla Fleischer 9:53 AM 2/19/10

On the subject of bike paths, I viewed this video on YouTube (thanks to Steve Presser of Big Fun in Cleveland Heights for the link):

Although I am not a bicyclist, I sympathize with the ideas and think this was a creative way to communicate the issues.

Joane 9:53 AM 2/19/10

As a 60 yr old black woman who has lived most of her life in the Hough area of Cleveland, makes me ask some questions.  First, believe it or not a community garden did not start with the first lady.  My parents have had one going since the late 40’s after they migrated from Louisiana.  We have always had fresh fruit.  My family may have lived in Hough but we are upper middle class.  We are(5 of us) college educated.  So are our children 5 of 7.  They get fresh fruits, vegetable and are NOT fed artificial sweeteners which is becoming hard to do.  That is more insulting to me than anything.  I wonder, if your guests can compare the rate of bulemia and anorexia in suburbia to the incidents found in the inner city.  A health problem is a health problem.  Since I work for a health insurance company, I see a lot of money spent on them, also.
My kids have never had a weight problem and my son, 36, is 6’6”, played hard, played video games, read, is married, no children.  My grandchildren are the same, no weight problems.  My grandson(our youngest daughter’s oldest) is in the 95 percentile for his height and 50 for his weight, even though for both my daughter and I, the doctors told us our sons were fat at a year old because they were 30+ lbs.  I gnored them and told my daughter to do so, also.  Men grow to 6’10”: in my family.

Michael 9:54 AM 2/19/10

We needed a study to find out that money and status supports healthier lives? Unfortunately I’m afraid one of the primary outcomes of this kind of official “branding” will be a further denigration of the low-ranking counties—like mine, Cuyahoga. What’s next, a study that shows proximity to the lake corresponds to higher humidity

John, Ohio City 9:55 AM 2/19/10

It was just mentioned briefly, however I believe the issue of stress effects not only quality, but also quantity of life to a greater degree than these studies account for in data.

Darrell 9:56 AM 2/19/10

When will these shopping center developers create places that you can park and walk around. You take your life in your hands to try to walk around Westgate for instance as opposed to the way it was before it was enclosed. It was a nice open air shopping center you could walk around without worrying about getting run over. These problems will perpetuate until some common sense and less greed work to motivate these things.

* 9:57 AM 2/19/10

I know it sounds harsh, but why not use the model of state run liquor stores and create state run food stores in place of food stamps.  It would curtail welfare fraud, waste, & abuse. And, would give users the right nutrition requirements needed for better health. Everybody seems to be able to get to a liquor store with no problem. If your hungry, we will feed you. No more using food stamps to by high sugar drinks, cigarettes, or beer.  Food store could provide those fruits, vegetables, and other healthy choices.
Just an idea.

Kim Corrigan 9:57 AM 2/19/10

I was recently talking with some friends about Cleveland and the wealth of opportunities we have.
My husband and I moved back to Cleveland with our three kids six months ago.  We had previously lived in Marshfield WI for two years, and while we enjoyed living in WI, we missed a lot of the cultural activities that come with living in a larger city.  We just became members at the Museum of Natural History and are planning on having the kids attend summer camp at the Great Lakes Science Center.  Also the cost of living in the greater Cleveland area is a lot lower compared to other metropolitan areas.  Just wondering what we can do to help turn the image of the city around.  We vow to never leave again.

Mark 9:57 AM 2/19/10

I think it’s important to frame these study result properly.

“A lot of things affect your health, including, remarkably, your zip code” is misleading.

Living in Cuyahoga doesn’t make one unhealthy. Unhealthy people live in Cuyahoga. There are far more impoverished and low-income residents in Cuyahoga than the surrounding counties. Health isn’t influence as much by location (environment) as it is wealth/poverty (access). Your guests have flirted with this in noting the important of socio-economic factors.

I would argue that, if the northeast Ohio counties were listed in order of Per-Capita Income, they would be listed in the same order as this study results.  Cuyahoga is possibly a safe and healthy place to live. However, the people who live here cannot afford a healthy lifestyle.


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