Health & Medicine

Study: Most Kentuckians think childhood obesity is a problem in the state

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky released a poll Monday that said an overwhelming majority of Kentuckians think childhood obesity is a problem.

A smaller majority of respondents to the foundation's Kentucky Health Issues poll also said the state should have a smoke-free law.

The telephone poll was sponsored by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. It was conducted in late 2011.

A random sample of more than 1,600 Kentuckians completed the survey. That number included 208 "cellphone only" users who did not have land lines. Dr. Susan Zepeda, chief executive office of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said this was the third year the poll had used cellphone only numbers in its polling data.

The poll found that:

■ 84 percent think childhood obesity is a problem in the state. That number was 91 percent among respondents in the 16-county greater Lexington region — including counties in the Blue Grass Area Development District bounded roughly by Harrison, Anderson, Madison and Powell counties — and 78 percent in the 46-county region of Eastern Kentucky.

■ 54 percent favor a statewide smoking ban, compared with 61 percent in greater Lexington and 54 percent in Eastern Kentucky.

■ 32 percent know someone who has misused prescription drugs; 39 percent in greater Lexington and 43 percent in Eastern Kentucky.

■ 45 percent keep guns in their homes; 39 percent in greater Lexington and 57 percent in Eastern Kentucky.

Zepeda said the poll "provides an excellent snapshot of how various health-related issues are viewed throughout the commonwealth."

As part of the poll, state data was broken down into a group of five regional assessments:

Greater Lexington: Adults were more likely to know someone who seemed to have a serious problem with depression, more likely to know someone who had experienced problems from abusing prescription pain relievers, more likely to favor a statewide smoke-free law and less likely to keep a firearm in or around their homes.

Eastern Kentucky: Those surveyed were more likely to know someone who had experienced problems from abusing prescription pain relievers, more likely to keep a firearm in or around their homes, more likely to live in poverty, less likely to have health insurance and less likely to describe their health as "excellent" or "very good."

Western Kentucky: Adults were more likely to keep a firearm in or around their homes, less likely to know where to find services or treatment for depression, and less likely to know someone who had experienced problems from prescription drug abuse.

Greater Louisville: Respondents were more likely to know where to find services or treatment for depression, more likely to think that childhood obesity was a serious problem and less likely to keep a firearm in or around their homes.

Northern Kentucky: Adults were more likely to have health insurance, less likely to live in poverty, less likely to know how to find services or treatment for depression and more likely to describe their health as "very good" or "excellent."

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