Health of Worcester 2011

Worcester’s Commissioner of Public Health has been working on a new report – “The Health of Worcester 2011”.  The report presentation that Dr. Magee has giving to various groups in the City uses striking visual representations of local and state data to highlight the public health issues Worcester faces.  What rises to the top? The three primary causes of premature death in Worcester are obesity, smoking, and opiate overdose.

The report showed 27 percent of adults in Worcester are obese, and another 35 percent are overweight. The number of obese children entering the city’s schools has doubled nationally to 10 percent over the past 30 years; in the city that number exceeds 18 percent, the report said. One in five city high school students is obese, the report said, with the percentage even higher among Hispanics and low-income.

Adults in the city are also dealing with diabetes and cholesterol issues. Cardiovascular disease is the city’s number two cause of premature death. Public health officials here want to decrease obesity and people being overweight by 5 percent in five years.

The Commissioner highlights large portion size, high consumption of fast food, and poor cooking and buying habits as the culprit of this extreme increase in overweight and obesity.   While these are of course true, its also important to look at the way our environment, policies and media influence peoples general food habits.  Strategies that address individual behaviors as well as our food environments and policies are most important.  Addressing one without the other will not solve the many diet-related problems our country faces.  Obesity, hunger, and diet-related disease (among many other issues) are all just symptoms of a very broken national and international food system.

The Commissioner has given the presentation to City Council, the Food & Active Living Policy Council, the City Manager, and will continue to present the information to relevant groups and organizations that can help work together to combat the obesity issue here in Worcester.

Read the article that ran in the T&G on August 16th.

The full Health of Worcester report is available at in the Health & Safety section.