Obesity, tobacco use and depression are three of the biggest culprits for dragging down the health of Yorkers, but the Healthy York County Coalition is working to change that.
At the health summit Thursday, Healthy York County Coalition executive director Robin Rohrbaugh said those are three of six areas the organization wants to focus on to improve the community's health.
The others are workplace wellness, prenatal care and reaching out to those who avoid obtaining healthcare because of costs.
The priorities are based on the findings of a 2010 health assessment of county residents.
To sift through the assessment, the coalition teamed up with Berwood Yost, the director for the Floyd Institute for Public Policy as well as the director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College.
Access to healthcare and the infrastructure that supports healthcare are two of York's strong points, Yost said, noting that only 9 percent of adults in York County are without health insurance.
However York County could use work in the area of preventive health and behaviors, Yost said.
He pointed out that an alarming 66 percent of Yorkers (like other Pennsylvanians) are overweight and obese. That statistic correlates to the low rates of exercise and vegetable consumption shown in the assessment, Yost said.
Another part of the assessment found that 45 percent of York residents had at least one poor mental health day in the past month and 61 percent had one or more days with symptoms of depression within the two weeks before taking the survey.
A poor mental health day is when stress, depression or other emotional problems prevent a person from fully engaging in daily activities at work and at home, he said. The assessment showed the rate for York County as higher than the statewide average.
Amy Dailey, assistant professor of health sciences at Gettysburg College, spoke at the summit and encouraged the audience to look for creative ways to build a healthy community outside the healthcare sector.
"If you've got a healthy community, that is only going to bring more money into the community. Seeing that correlation and relationship will help people to see the importance of improving health," Dailey said.
Dailey said she was excited to see that many members in the audience at the summit representing businesses and organizations outside the direct realm of healthcare.
Improving the health of York County ultimately depends on encouraging change in individuals' behaviors and choices, Dailey said, but she noted the importance of first establishing good public policy to reach those individuals.
Economic, housing and education policy all affect health policy, so positive changes made in any of those areas will help to improve the health of a community, said Dailey.
The complete health assessment report will be available for the public at www.healthyyork.org, and hard copies will also be available at local libraries in the coming months, Rohrbaugh said.
By the numbers: Overweight and obese in Body Mass Index - York County 66 percent; same as state; 10-year trend, stable
Regular smokers - York County 22 percent; same as state; 10-year trend, stable
Consume 3 servings of vegetables daily - York County 3 percent; same as state; 10-year trend, stable
One or more days with depressive symptoms in past two weeks - York County 61 percent; same as state; 10-year trend, stable
At least one day mental health was not good in past month - York County 45 percent; higher than state; 10-year trend, increasing
Did not receive healthcare because of costs - York County 12 percent; same as state; 10-year trend, stable
-Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or email@example.com.