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Working Age YPLL

Throughout the Partner Up! for Public Health campaign, when we were conducting the research and analysis that enabled us to “connect the dots” between community health and economic vitality at a local level, one of the key health metrics we relied upon was premature death – better known as Years of Potential Life Lost before Age 75, or YPLL 75.  YPLL 75 is generally regarded as the Dow Jones Industrial Average of a community’s (or a state’s, or a nation’s) health.  If you want to look at one metric and get a sense of a community’s health, look at its YPLL 75 rate.

YPLL 75 is part of the formula the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation uses to calculate a county’s overall Health Outcomes Rankings, and it’s easy enough to pull from the State of Georgia’s excellent online public health data system, OASIS (for Online Analytical Statistical Information System).  So it was a natural data point to work with. Read more

Thanks, New York Times!

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been working on a presentation I’ll be delivering next month to the Kentucky Public Health Association.  I was invited to speak to the group after one of its leaders saw me deliver an early version of the “Connecting the Dots: Community Health & Economic Vitality” presentation we developed as part of the Partner Up! for Public Health campaign that officially concluded last year.

It was literally yesterday afternoon that I finished double-checking data and proofing maps I’ll be using to demonstrate the overlap between good health and strong economies in the Bluegrass State – and this morning The New York Times gave me a major assist by publishing a front-page story built around a first-ever look at county-level smoking rates.

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Chicken and the Egg

In the four years we’ve been talking about the relationship between health and economic vitality at a community level, the one question we’ve gotten more than any other is the chicken-and-egg question.  Which comes first?  Which is the driver?  Does health make wealth?  Or vice versa?

My answer is that the relationship between health and economic productivity is pretty clear first and foremost at a personal level.  We all know we’re more productive when we’re in good health than when we’re down with a cold or the flu, let alone something more serious.  We also know that when we’re sick, we inevitably have to divert some of our income to medical care.

The same thing plays out at a community level.  Recently we updated an analysis of the Georgia counties that came in at the top and bottom of our 2013 Partner Up! for Public Health Power Rankings – Oconee County at the top and side-by-side South Georgia neighbors Crisp and Wilcox counties tied for last.

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The High Cost of Premature Death

Here at the Partner Up! for Public Health campaign, we’re always looking for ways to illustrate the high cost of poor health.  Recently we began to study the mountains of public health and economic data we’ve collected to see if we could develop a reasonable methodology for putting a price tag on premature death in Georgia.

This is not a new idea, but most of the studies and reports we’ve found rely on complex formulas that most of us can’t understand and produce results that people have trouble relating to.  Truth is, those are easy traps to fall into; it’s difficult to deal with data without dealing with data.  One formula we found looked like this: Read more

Annual Power Ratings stable at the top, volatile at the bottom

Now that we’ve published the Partner Up! for Public Health campaign’s 2013 Community Health & Economic Vitality Power Ratings, we’ve begun to dig into the barrels full of data that underlie those rankings.  What we’re looking for is interesting or useful nuggets of information that help inform the discussion about the relationship between health and the economy at the local level.

Sometimes you spot patterns or trend lines that seem interesting, but it’s not always easy to interpret the data or explain what – if anything – it might mean.  That’s the case with today’s topic. Read more

The Two Georgias of Health: From Minnesota to Mississippi

For at least 30 years now, editorial writers, politicians and civic leaders have been wringing their hands about the “two Georgias” problem.  The term was reportedly coined by the late Albany, Ga., media magnate James Gray in 1983 to frame a discussion about economic disparities between north and south Georgia.  Generations of leaders have since regularly invoked it as a lament about the state’s seeming inability to bridge myriad gaps among various parts of the state.

The discussions almost always center on economic development and prosperity in different parts of the state and then bridge to other issues, including education and transportation.  Health status and healthcare sometimes make it onto the agenda, but usually as a footnote or an afterthought.

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YPLL: A Primer

Today’s subject is YPLL.  YPLL is the acronym for Years of Potential Life Lost, which is probably the most common way of gauging premature death and is more or less the Dow Jones Industrial Average of public health.  If you want a quick, one-number look at the health status of a county or state or nation, you look at YPLL and whether it’s getting better or worse.

Basically, YPLL is calculated by taking the number of people who die in a community in a given year and subtracting their ages at death from 75, which is the most commonly used projected “end point age.”  I’m 64.  If I die this year, I’ll contribute 11 years to Fulton County’s bucket of Years of Potential Life Lost.  An infant who dies at the age of six months would contribute 74.5 years to that same YPLL bucket. Read more

A look at obesity in the different parts of Georgia

August 1, 2012

Today, we’ll take a look at some fresh work we’re doing on obesity in Georgia.  Obesity itself isn’t necessarily a medical condition, but it often contributes to diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and some types of cancer – all of which obviously are serious medical conditions and very expensive to treat.

It’s not news, of course, that Georgia has an obesity problem.  According to United Health Foundation’s 2011 edition of America’s Health Rankings, 30.4 percent of adult Georgians are obese and we rank 38th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Another non-profit that tracks health status, the Trust for America’s Health, says we’re doing a little better.  In the 2011 edition of its “F as in Fat” report, TAH puts the adult obesity rate in Georgia at 28.1 percent.  It also uses a worst-to-best ranking system that puts us in 17th place nationally; on the best-to-worst scale used by America’s Health Rankings, we’d be 34th. Read more