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.
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
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.
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
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