Consider improving personal health

According to the new County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report released last week, Clark County is making some strides in improving our overall health. 

However, there is still work to do. 

Here is some of the significant data included in the 2017 report, which can be accessed in its entirety at countyhealthrankings.org: 

— 19 percent of adults in Clark County reported being in poor or fair health

— 9 percent of babies are born with a low birth weight 

— 21 percent of adults report being a smoker 

— 31 percent of adults are considered obese (with a BMI of 30 or higher) 

— 29 percent of adults report having no physical activity in their leisure time 

— 14 percent of adults consider themselves heavy or binge-drinker 

— 7 percent of driving deaths involved alcohol impairment 

— The rate of birth by teens age 15-19 is 52 per 1,000 

— 10 percent of Clark Countians are uninsured. 

As with any report of this type, the data has its flaws and margin of error, but it provides a pretty decent look at just where Clark County stands in terms of overall health, the factors that contribute to health and how health contributes to outcomes like premature death and disease rates. 

Clark County ranks 24th out of Kentucky’s 120 counties in health factors, and 53rd in health outcomes. Compared to our surrounding counties and the state, Clark County has its own points of pride and weaknesses. 

Rather than looking at how Clark County stacks up against the rest of the state, it would be more beneficial to think about how we can compete with ourselves. That could mean thinking about how we can improve our health county-wide, but let’s think even smaller. 

How can you improve your own health? 

If you smoke, consider quitting. Take advantage of the health department’s or some other smoking cessation course. 

Are you overweight or obese? Ask your doctor what steps you can take to incorporate healthier foods and more physical activity in your daily routine. 

Ask for help finding affordable insurance so you can have regular screenings and preventative care.  If you are lucky enough to have insurance, don’t neglect yourself by skipping annual check-ups or screening opportunities. 

If you have a substance abuse problem — not matter what that substance is — seek help. Consider rehab or therapy. 

If each of us considers our personal health and then the health of those around us, we can begin to see improvements in the community as a whole.

Addressing health in Clark County could be as simple and looking inward. 

If we did that, we might be surprised to find ourselves climbing these rankings in coming years.