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Farmington Hills, Farmington

April 16, 2014

Report shows community members overweight, inactive, not utilizing preventive care services

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — Results from a Botsford Hospital report show that many residents from both cities are overweight and inactive, and many are not taking advantage of preventive care services for their health.

The results were released in December, and a Community Assessment Advisory Council developed a preliminary list of major health issues that are impacting the community.

Being overweight and inactive, income and financial issues, the health care system, and mental health were factors the council members listed.

The report said people are overweight and inactive because of a lack of consistent health information, incentives to motivate people to make behavioral changes and access to affordable healthy foods.

Council members also said busy families depend on convenience, which includes visits to fast-food restaurants, contributing to poor health.

Council members said individuals with lower incomes or who are struggling with their finances might not have access to affordable healthy food and/or health care.

More than half of the survey respondents reported an annual household income higher than $75,000, compared with the median incomes in Farmington at $57,407, and Farmington Hills at $70,828.

An Affordable Care Act provision requires nonprofit hospitals — such as Botsford — to conduct surveys of the surrounding communities once every three years. The purpose of the survey is to show the major health needs facing residents.

Public Sector Consultants Inc., a public policy and research firm in Lansing, designed and evaluated the survey and facilitated a 34-member council, made up of representatives from local government, the public health sector, education and other nonprofit entities.

The survey, which included results from 711 Farmington and Farmington Hills residents 18 years or older, showed that almost one in 10 survey respondents said a health professional had diagnosed them with diabetes. More than a third of respondents said they smoke cigarettes every day, and more than a third thought being overweight and inactivity were the most two important health issues in the community.

With these leading causes of death in these communities, Margo Gorchow, community relations, marketing and development vice president, said she hopes people will take a second look at their health.

“What I think it did was to capture that Farmington-Farmington Hills shares in what is both a state and national problem, and that is (a) lack of exercise and activity,” Gorchow said.

The Community Health Needs Assessment Survey asked respondents how often they eat fruits and vegetables, if they have health insurance and how often they smoke, among other questions.

To combat unhealthy lifestyles in the community, council-recommended actions include “get people moving,” Laura Perlowski, director of the Farmington YMCA, said in the report.

Some ways of encouraging a more active lifestyle included utilizing current resources in the community, such as parks and recreation programs, the Costick Center and the F2H Fit Challenge, a collaboration between several community groups in Farmington and Farmington Hills.

City Councilman Richard Lerner, who brought the idea to the city after learning of a similar program in Oklahoma City, said the planning stages for the F2H Fit Challenge started about two years ago.

“Our motto is eat well, exercise regularly and have more birthdays,” Lerner said. “One out of three (people in Michigan) are overweight. We are trying to find a way to change that. The real goal is to get people somehow involved; whether that be more active or lose weight, we are trying to make a difference here in our community. That is our goal.”

Farmington Hills resident Kelly Nelson, 31, said she is trying to live a healthier lifestyle.

“Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of juicing,” she said. “I’ve been trying to stay away from the store-bought juice and sodas, and stuff like that, and buy a lot of fresh fruit. I try to exercise. It makes me feel better; some days are better than others.”

Nelson, who did not participate in the survey, said that in addition to exercise, she tries to combat stress with positive thinking.

“I can worry a lot, and that can cause a lot of problems, too,” Nelson said.

Youth and Family Services Division Program Director Todd L. Lipa said he noticed that one of the top priorities is to get the health of children and residents in check.

He said after looking at the Community Health Needs Assessment from a youth standpoint, the organization is working with F2H Fit on how to potentially kick off a program to get children moving and exercising.

“I see the need more and more for keeping our kids active,” he said.

Lipa, who lost 75 pounds last year by exercising more and curbing unhealthy eating habits, said he hopes to be a role model for community members.

“If I am telling kids to get healthy, I had to think about that, myself,” Lipa said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sherri Kolade at skolade@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1046.