Obesity, teen pregnancy and tobacco use remain prevalent problems in York County, according to the conclusions of the latest YorkCounts Indicators Report, released on Wednesday.
The report has been compiled every three years since 2001 and tracks information related to seven areas of quality of life - aging, community, economy, education, environment, health and safety.
Now an initiative of the York County Community Foundation, the report originated as a way to engage Yorkers in a dialogue about what quality of life means to them, said Bob Woods, chairman of the YorkCounts indicators committee.
"This is the fourth report since 2001, so we do have some trends now that we are able to see," said Woods.
The increasing number of people struggling with obesity was one trend noted by Woods. The report found that the rate of obesity in York County is higher than the rate of obesity in Pennsylvania.
In York County from 2008 to 2010, the obesity rate was 31 percent, and the state rate was 28 percent, according to the report.
Two things that have not changed since the reports first began, and that bother Woods, are the rates of teen pregnancy and tobacco use.
"Teen pregnancy has gone up, and we're still above the Pennsylvania rate," said Wood. "A lot has been done to help in that area, but obviously more needs to be done."
The percentage of children born to mothers under the age of 20 in York County in 2009 was 9.4, and the percent for the state was 8.9, the report said.
The percentage of tobacco users in York remains at 20 percent, only one point below what it was in the 2001 report.
The contrast in the number of Yorkers with high school diplomas and bachelor's degrees was interesting to Jane Conover, vice president of community investment for the foundation and a member of the YorkCounts committee.
Only 22 percent of adults over the age of 25 in York have at least a bachelor's degree, in contrast to the 88.7 percent who hold a high school diploma.
"That did not seem very high to me," Conover said.
While not everyone needs a college degree to succeed, it is becoming more important in today's economy, she said. The report serves as a good reminder to encourage people to pursue higher education and to ensure the education in York is preparing students for success, she said.
Health trends: The leading cause of death is now cancer, a switch from heart disease - which was the number one killer in York County each year the study was released since 2001.
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death nationwide, and is still in second place in York. Accidents and suicide are the two leading causes of death among young people between the age of 5 and 24 in York.
York County scored much lower than the state average in violent crime, which went down by 12 percent between 2009 and 2010.
The county also showed positive signs in the environment category, as York has preserved more land than the 2,500-acre annual preservation goal that was established by the York County Open Space and Greenways Plan.
Access the full report at www.yorkcounts.org. By clicking on the Start a Trend button, anyone can provide input about which indicators they believe are most important, as well as make suggestions for new indicators to be used in future reports.
- Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or email@example.com