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Is Crow Wing County really that healthy?

Ann Kinney, senior research scientist at the Minnesota Department of Health, goes over health survey details during the Crow Wing Energized Health Summit. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch1 / 2
The fifth annual Crow Wing Energized Health Summit draws hundreds to Lakewood Evangelical Free Church in Baxter in late February. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch2 / 2

Crow Wing County residents continue to describe themselves in good to excellent health, but the feeling could be deceiving.

In comparison to a 2014 survey, results continue to show almost 90 percent of the adults in Crow Wing County feel their health is good to excellent. But when they report their actual health conditions, what is found in reality is two-thirds of the population is overweight or obese, and 25-40 percent have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, mental health conditions and arthritis. Results also indicated two-thirds of all adults are not eating five or more fruits or vegetables a day, nor are they getting the recommended physical activity.

Every three years, Crow Wing Energized conducts a survey of adults in Crow Wing County. The second of those surveys was distributed in the fall of 2017, with more than 1,000 people responding. Results were shared at the recent fifth annual Crow Wing Energized Summit.

The survey was developed by Crow Wing Energized and the Minnesota Department of Health with the assistance of Essentia Health and Crow Wing County Community Services staff. It was mailed to 4,000 addresses in Crow Wing County. A total of 1,084 surveys came back for a 27.1 percent response rate, a statistically sound sampling adjusted to get a representative of the adult population of the county.

Other areas of concern included an increase in tobacco use, from 17.6 percent to 23.3 percent over the past three years. Less than half of cigarette smokers indicated they are trying to quit (reduced from three-fourths of smokers who tried to quit in the previous survey). The survey also found 44 percent of people who make less than $20,000 are cigarette smokers. Tobacco users report higher rates of obesity, depression and anxiety.

Respondents were also asked about advance care directives, indicating how people want their health handled if incapacitated. The survey found 25 percent of adults in Crow Wing County have an advanced care plan. That increases when patients are 75 or older (50 percent have plans). A noteworthy critical step is making sure advance care plans are in the hands of health care providers. Sixty percent of plans are given to the health care provider, according to the survey results.

Change management research suggests awareness is needed before action. Crow Wing Energized reported its visibility increased from 4 percent of adults who knew about the grassroots organization three years ago to 24 percent.

Crow Wing Energized will be studying the feedback and developing healthy strategies to overcome obstacles identified by the survey. A variety of initiatives are underway, such as the National Diabetes Prevention Program aimed at helping the adult population in Crow Wing County live a healthier life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report prediabetes is a serious condition affecting 1 out of 3 Americans or 86 million people.

To learn more about Crow Wing Energized, contact Cassie Carey at cassie.carey@essentiahealth.org.

Noteworthy findings

More than 1 in 4 (28.2 percent) adults in Crow Wing County have been told by a health professional they have a mental illness, an increase from 24.4 percent in the 2014 survey. Depression and anxiety are more common than diabetes.

A lack of physical activity and healthy eating choices shows as people age:

• 51 percent of Crow Wing County adults age 45 and older have high blood pressure.

• 42 percent of Crow Wing County adults age 45 and older have high cholesterol.

• 17 percent of adults have worried about food running out in the past 12 months. This is an improvement over 2014, when 30 percent felt that concern.

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