Study shows obesity problem in Hall
Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce

A 2016 health care study shows a serious obesity problem in Hall County.

Half of people between the ages of 30 and 54 in a sample population of men and women are obese, or in danger of chronic health problems, such as diabetes, according to the 2016 Adult Health Snapshot, data compiled by the Health Care Initiative Consortium.

“That’s a pretty daunting piece of information,” said Gale Starich, chairwoman of the consortium, which is sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Vision 2030 initiative.

The study also shows that 81 percent of men are overweight or obese and 72 percent of women are overweight or obese. Those between ages 18 and 29 have the healthiest body weight.

The total sample is 19,552 people: 11,253, women; 8,299, men.

The 2016 data, presented by Starich at the chamber’s Health Care Committee Wednesday morning, was an update of information collected in 2011 in an effort to develop ways to improve community health.

Here were some other key findings:

  • 23 percent in a smaller population sampling have elevated glucose and are at risk of or have diabetes. However, in a dose of good news, 77 percent of diabetics or those with pre-diabetes had normal hemoglobin A1C levels, or glucose levels over three months or so. “That’s a really good sign that our folk … are paying attention and they’re working with their physicians,” Starich said.
  • Two-thirds of women have normal blood pressure, compared to one-third of men. Starich noted that the American Medical Association has recently redefined healthy blood pressure. Treatment is now recommended at 130/80 instead of 140/90.
  • In the sample, 17.5 percent have elevated cholesterol, with 21 percent of women having high total cholesterol compared to 13 percent of men. However, that total includes HDL or “good” cholesterol and women generally have four times higher HDL than men.

The 2011 study had a mixture of findings, including that 75 percent of the population was overweight or obese and nearly 79 percent have blood sugars indicating they are diabetic.

As far as comparing findings from both studies, “I need to take the data and put it side by side,” Starich said.

Offhand, “obesity rates are pretty close to what they were before, but women seem to be doing better in managing (that),” she said.

“There’s been a lot of (awareness) about heart disease in women, so I think are really starting to pay attention.”

One major difference between the two studies is the 2016 study now includes data about depression screenings and opioid use.

Findings show that mild depression goes up with age and that adults with depression are more likely to be obese.

In a survey of 27,889 patient records, the highest number of opioid prescriptions is 9,568, written for people between the ages of 30 and 54. The lowest number, according to the study, is 460, for ages 17 and under.

The consortium is a group of Hall area health advocates representing The Longstreet Clinic, Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic, Northeast Georgia Health System, Brenau University College of Health Sciences, Good News Clinics and the University of North Georgia College of Health Sciences.

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