Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Nicollet County People Live Longer

Public Health Department Head, Nita Aasen presented the department’s annual report to the Nicollet County Board of Commissioners this week. The following is taken directly from her report.

“Results from a decade long Harvard University study showed that Nicollet County ranked first in Minnesota for longevity (and eleventh in the country’s 3,2456 counties) at 81.1 years. Among the top 100 counties in the United States, Nicollet County was joined by three other South Central Counties: Brown, Waseca, and Faribault. The finding that Nicollet County was the “healthiest’ county in Minnesota generated significant media attention for Public Health. Requests for interviews came from WCCO Radio, KEYC-TV, and KARE 11 TV.

The media was interested in learning what specific factors contributed to the longevity of residents residing in Nicollet County. Statistics show that many Nicollet County residents come from Northern European stock, are well educated, have a lower rate of poverty, a lower smoking rate, and are highly insured. These factors are more likely to correlate with choosing a healthy lifestyle (exercising, weight control, and not smoking), taking personal responsibility for preventative care, and better control of chronic diseases (taking medications as directed). The media also went to Heritage Meadows, a congregate living site, and the St. Peter Senior Center to interview seniors about their views on their longevity. Their comments also focused on genetics and lifestyle. Three seniors interviewed stated their longevity was linked to “good genes, good clean country living, and ‘we don’t smoke, drink, or carouse around.’.

The Harvard study found that the highest disease burden was smoking (almost 14% of health care costs), alcohol use and overweight and obesity (both almost 8%), high blood pressure (6%), high cholesterol (almost 6%), low fruit and vegetable intake, physical inactivity and illicit drug use (each between 2 and 3%), unsafe sex and iron deficiency anemia (each about 1%). Personal responsibility can be taken in each of these areas to improve personal health and lower health care costs for all of society." end

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