Posts filed under ‘Adults’

In the News: Cancer Rates and Education and Obesity and Diabetes

Two new studies of interest out today.  The first links cancer rates and socioeconomic status, particularly education.  Researchers associate the drop in cancer rates among well educated (people with at least 16 years of education) to better prevention/screening and declines in smoking.  You can read a Reuters story on the study here.

The childhood obestiy epidemic could have a lasting legacy of a growing number of adults with diabetes.   You can read a HealthDay story on the Michigan study here.


July 8, 2008 at 4:21 pm Leave a comment

Health Disparities in Rochester: What Needs to be Done

In a follow-up to the previous post (Report Details Disparities in Care), Nancy Bennett, M.D. and Wade Norwood have written a piece that appeared in today’s Democrat & Chronicle. Bennett is director of the URMC Center for Community Health and Norwood is director of Community Engagement for the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency.

The piece (which appears below) addresses the underlying factors behind disparities in our community, the progress that has been made, and the challenges that remain.

Spread good health to all corners of Rochester

Dr. Nancy Bennett and Wade Norwood

In the World Health Organization’s comparison of the health of nations, the United States ranks 24th, below most industrialized nations. However, the United States spends more per capita, and our expenditures are rising faster than those in any other country. While the reasons for this paradox are many, one critical factor is the persistence of health disparities based on race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

To improve our country’s health, we must improve the health of our most vulnerable populations. While we all are cared for by the same health systems, white suburban populations enjoy relatively good health, but poor urban and rural populations do not.

One example of these horrible inequalities was reported this month by the Dartmouth Atlas Project: African Americans are more likely to suffer leg amputations than white people.

The reasons for such differences are complex.

  • African Americans have higher rates of obesity and smoking, putting them at greater risk for diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, heightening the risk of amputation.
  • African Americans are likely to have poorer access to primary and specialty care, which might improve the management of chronic disease, thus preventing complications.
  • African Americans often have poorer access to advanced surgical alternatives to amputation.

Although these differences may be related to the adequacy of insurance, studies have shown that differences remain even when coverage is equal. We need to understand, through public health and health services research, the complexities of this pathway so that we can eliminate inequalities.


June 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment

California Study Links Obesity and Food Environment

California researchers this week released a report suggesting that obesity and diabetes are more prevalent in neighborhoods with a high ratio of fast food restaurants and convenience stores to grocery stores and produce vendors.  You can see the study here and read a Los Angeles times story here (subscription required).

The authors call on policymakers to undertake small-scale retail innovations, such as adding mobile produce vendors and farmers’ markets; leverage recent changes to the federal Women, Infants and Children food package to expand the number of authorized vendors and increase capacity at existing vendors; and require restaurant menu nutrition labeling to help consumers make more informed meal choices. In addition, the authors recommend that community planners address the food environment, in part through zoning decisions designed to limit fast food restaurants in already oversaturated neighborhoods.

A smaller, but illustrative, survey of convenience stores in the southwest quadrant of Rochester conducted by SWAN and a University of Rochester student last summer revealed that lack of healthy food options for residents.

Locally, the there is an effort beginning in Monroe County to develop an agenda for policy changes that can prevent childhood obesity. This effort consists of a policy team of community leaders who represent schools, parent groups, restaurants, recreation organizations, etc.  Lead by the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency in partnership with URMC’s Center for Community Health and Department of Pediatrics, and the Children’s Agenda, the effort is considering and selecting most promising policy changes for our community.

Additionally, several community organizations have – over the last couple of years – been taking steps to bring healthier food options to city residents.  This includes new farmer’s markets, produce stands, and projects in cooperation with FoodLink and other organizations.

We will have more to report on these projects as they unfold.

April 30, 2008 at 1:57 pm 1 comment


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