Healthy food access

Ohio ranks 46th in latest HPIO Health Value Dashboard

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio this week released the latest edition of its Health Value Dashboard, which ranks states and the District of Columbia on a combination of population health and healthcare spending metrics. According to the Dashboard, Ohio ranks 46th in the nation in health value.

The Dashboard is unique in its emphasis on "health value," rather than on population health outcomes alone. No other national rankings factor in the impact of healthcare spending. The Dashboard also takes a more comprehensive approach in looking at health by evaluating social, economic and physical environments - which are significant contributors to overall health. The Dashboard provides in-depth data on 118 metrics.

The HPIO Health Value Dashboard shows that Ohioans live less healthy lives (43rd in population health) and spend more on health care (31st in healthcare spending) than other states.

The 2017 Health Value Dashboard is the second edition of the rankings. HPIO released its first Dashboard in late 2014. Ohio ranked 47th in health value in the inaugural edition.


Stress may negate benefits of healthy diet, OSU study finds

Stress may counteract the beneficial effects of a healthful diet, according to a study by Ohio State University researchers (Source: “Stress May Counteract Effects of a Healthful Diet,” New York Times, Sept. 22, 2016).

The study, which appeared in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, looked at 58 women who first ate a meal high in saturated fats. Then, one to two weeks later, the women ate a meal low in saturated fats. The only difference between the meals was in the ratio of saturated fats to unsaturated. In all other respects — number of calories, types of food, and amounts of fat, carbohydrate and protein — they were identical.

Before each meal, the women completed several well-validated questionnaires assessing symptoms of depression over the past week and the number of daily stressors in the past 24 hours. Researchers took blood samples before and after each meal.

Among women who had low levels of stress, markers of inflammation tended to be higher after eating the meal containing high levels of saturated fat than after the low saturated fat meal.

But for women who had high levels of stress, those differences disappeared — they had high levels of inflammation even after the meal that was low in saturated fats.

“The surprise here is that stress made the healthier-fat meal look like the saturated-fat meal,” said the lead author, Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor of psychiatry at Ohio State University. “Stress is doing things with the metabolism that we really didn’t know about before.”


HPIO releases new food security fact sheet in its Guide to Evidence-Based Prevention

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has added a new fact sheet to its recently updated Guide to Evidence-Based Prevention. The new evidence summary fact sheet highlights evidence-based prevention strategies to increase food security and access to healthy food in Ohio.

The Guide provides policymakers, community health improvement planners and philanthropic organizations with the best-available sources of evidence for what works to address many of the challenges identified in HPIO’s Health Value Dashboard.

The Guide includes a policy brief, Navigating Sources of Evidence, that defines “evidence-based prevention” and provides guidance on how to find credible sources of evidence for what works to prevent Ohio’s greatest health challenges.

It also includes a series of fact sheets and evidence inventories on three topics:

  • Tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure
  • Food security and healthy food access
  • Physical activity

Each evidence summary fact sheet identifies prevention strategies that are most likely to improve health and decrease disparities, describes the extent to which each strategy is currently being implemented in Ohio and offers policy options for implementing or expanding the strategies. The evidence inventories compile reviews of prevention policies and programs for specific topics and indicate the strength of the research evidence.

HPIO will continue to add tools on specific health challenges throughout 2016. Full color hard copies of the fact sheets and inventories are available upon request via an online order form.


Ohio obesity rate drops for first time in decade

Ohio is one of only four states to see a decrease in adult obesity rates over the last year, according to a report released Thursday (Source: “Ohio among 4 states to mark lower obesity rate,” Toledo Blade, Sept. 2, 2016).

According to “The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America,” an annual publication from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 29.8 percent of adults in Ohio were obese in 2015, down from 32.6 percent in 2014. Minnesota, Montana, and New York also recorded decreases, while Kansas and Kentucky’s rates increased. Ohio ranks 26th-highest in adult obesity rate. The report marks the first time in a decade that multiple states have seen their obesity rate drop.

No state has seen a decrease in the adult obesity rate in the last decade except the District of Columbia in 2010, according to the report. Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virgina have the highest rates of adult obesity, while Colorado, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii have the lowest.

In Ohio, 37.1 percent of black adults are obese, compared with 30.5 percent of white adults and 26.3 percent of Latinos.


Study: Obesity linked to 13 types of cancer

Further underscoring the value of healthy eating and active living, a review of more than a thousand studies has found solid evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk for at least 13 types of cancer (Source: “Obesity Is Linked to at Least 13 Types of Cancer,” New York Times Well blog, August 24, 2016).

Strong evidence was already available to link five cancers to being overweight or obese: adenocarcinoma of the esophagus; colorectal cancer; breast cancer in postmenopausal women; and uterine and kidney cancers.

This new review, conducted by a working group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, and published in The New England Journal of Medicine, links an additional eight cancers to excess fat: gastric cardia, a cancer of the part of the stomach closest to the esophagus; liver cancer; gallbladder cancer; pancreatic cancer; thyroid cancer; ovarian cancer; meningioma, a usually benign type of brain cancer; and multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.

According to the chairman of the working group, Dr. Graham Colditz, a professor of medicine and surgery at Washington University in St. Louis, these 13 cancers together account for 42 percent of all new cancer diagnoses.

“Only smoking comes close” as an environmental factor affecting cancer risk, Dr. Colditz said. “And that’s an important message for nonsmokers. Obesity now goes to the top of the list of things to focus on.”


Study: People who grow up poor have a harder time regulating food intake

A team of researchers at Texas Christian University has found that people who grow up poor seem to have a significantly harder time regulating their food intake throughout their lives, even when they are not hungry (Source: “The crippling thing about growing up poor that stays with you forever,” Washington Post, Feb. 12, 2016).

According to the study, those who grew up in higher socioeconomic households exhibited normal consumption behavior—eating when they were hungry, saying no thank you to the snacks when they were full. Those who grew up in lower socioeconomic households, meanwhile, ate no matter how hungry they were, regardless of the study participants’current socioeconomic status.

The reason why people who grow up in poorer households seem to have trouble controlling how much they eat when they are not actually hungry is not entirely clear. One theory is that for those who never had to worry about a meal, foregoing a snack is an afterthought. But for those who did, it could mean the difference between a good night's sleep and hours awake in bed.

The researchers caution that these findings do not establish a direct causal relationship between childhood poverty and eating in the absence of energy need. However, they do suggest that early environmental experiences may influence how individuals regulate their energy needs.


Ohio ranks near bottom for food insecurity

Ohio trails only Missouri and Arkansas in the percentage of families forced to skip meals or eat less because of limited resources, according to a federal study released this week (Source: “Ohio among worst states nationally for food security, report finds,” Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 9, 2015).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture report found that 7.5 percent of Ohio households experienced “very low food security” from 2012 to 2014. That’s up from the state’s 6.4 percent average from 2009 to 2011, and worse than all but two states.

The national rate held steady during that period at 5.6 percent.

The USDA report also found that Ohio ranked sixth in the nation for food insecurity, more broadly defined as households facing uncertainty or limited ability to provide food. Between 2012 and 2014, 16.9 percent of Ohio households faced such struggles, up from 15.5 percent between 2009 to 2011.

The national food-insecurity rate was 14.3 percent between 2012 and 2014, down from 14.7 percent the previous three-year period.


Ohio taskforce report outlines plan to address ‘food deserts’

A coalition of interest groups, businesses and social services agencies laid out a plan last week to eliminate food deserts in Ohio by promoting grocery development in underserved areas of the state. (Source: “Package to eradicate Ohio's 'food deserts' is delivered at Statehouse,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, Feb. 12, 2015). 

The Ohio Healthy Food Financing Task Force presented a report at the Statehouse outlining 10 recommendations to state policymakers.

The Task Force is comprised of nearly 50 members, including representatives from the city of Cleveland, JobsOhio, the United Way and the Ohio Grocers Association, several grocery store operators and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.