Iowans getting healthier, state report shows

Even with progress in key areas, barriers remain

Front Rotator, Iowa Department of Public Health, Lifestyle, Policy, Wellness,
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April 14, 2014 | 4:00 am

The Iowa Department of Public Health released its 2014 Healthy Iowans Progress Report on Friday afternoon, highlighting advances the state has made toward improving residents’ health as well as remaining barriers.

The state began working on a health improvement plan in May 2011, which connected health planning efforts underway across the state in the private and public sectors.

Participating organizations submitted objectives along with strategies and resources to improve the health of Iowans over five years as well as agreed to implement the plan and report yearly progress.

More than 65 organizations participated in the 2014 progress report, which found that Iowa is making headway in several key areas:

l The Iowa Department of Transportation reported that crash fatalities in 2013 were down to a record low of 318 compared with the 2009 to 2012 average of 371.

l The number of methamphetamine labs seized in the state declined, a reflection of the availability of the drug. The Department of Public Safety collected reports of 290 labs seized in 2013, down from 382 in 2010. This was about 80 percent below Iowa’s meth lab high water mark of 1,500 in 2004.

l The percentage of children, ages 2 to 5, in the Women, Infants, and Children’s (WIC) program that were overweight or obese dropped from 22 percent in 2010 to 19 percent in 2013. According to the Centers for Dieses Control and Prevention, Iowa is one of 19 states where the obesity rate for children in WIC has declined.

l The pregnancy rate among teenagers aged 15-17 dropped from 15.5 per 1,000 births in 2011 to 14.4 per 1,000 births in 2013.

The report also pointed out areas the state still needs to improve upon, including better health care access for cancer patients living rural areas, the school breakfast program falling short of its goal of increasing student participation by 20 percent and federal funding that supports a collaborative response to children endangered by parental drug abuse drying up.

The Iowa Department of Public Health coordinates the state’s health improvement plan, reports progress, and makes revisions, “but the ability to make lasting improvement depends on the collaborative nature of public health and not on a single state public health agency,” said Interim Director Gerd Clabaugh, in a news release.

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