As we’ve noted in various previous posts, Georgia’s premature death rate (known formally as Years of Potential Life Lost before age 75, or YPLL 75) has been improving fairly steadily over the 20 years that the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH) has been compiling pertinent data. Between 1994 and 2013, the state’s YPLL 75 rate improved from 9,195.6 to 7,104.7, a gain of 19.4 percent. The national median, as reported the Robert W. Johnson Foundation in its latest County Health Rankings, was 7,681, so Georgia is doing a little better than the nation as a whole.
But, as we’ve noted in past posts, Georgia’s improvement has been far from even; we’ve focused in particular on regional differences and the dramatic gap in YPLL 75 performance between Metro Atlanta and the rest of the state. Until now, however, we haven’t looked at racial or gender comparisons, and that produces a couple of interesting headlines. One is that the vast majority of gains in premature death rates between 1994 and 2013 have been made in the black population. The other is that rural white females are losing ground. Read more
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.
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