As someone who's currently in a
battle with pneumonia (a fight I hope I'm winning by the time you
read this), I was interested when something called America's Health
Rankings put out a survey of not just how Tennessee is doing, but
Monroe County also.
Overall, Tennessee is about where you'd
expect. We rank 48th for sedentary lifestyle, 47th for being victims
of violent crime (and suffering injury, I assume) and 44th for cases
of diabetes. On the plus side, we rank first in NOT binge drinking,
and are doing pretty well in terms of access to primary care
physicians (20th) and per capital public health funding (21st).
County wise, well, if I'm
understanding what I'm reading here, we're well within the top 50
percent of the state, ranking 36th out of 95 counties. It would
appear that of the 45,000 or so people we have in Monroe County,
about 9,500 of us can expect to die before we're supposed to.
That's higher than the overall state
rate of just under 9,100 and way above the national rate of about
We also have about five poor physical
health days a year and just over three bad mental health days per
year. Depending on who you are, those numbers probably seem
incredibly low or rather high. I've been feeling bad for close to
three weeks now, but before that it had literally been years since
I'd felt bad enough to say, "You know what? I think I'll spend
the day in the recliner under a blanket." Maybe it evened out.
As for poor mental health days, 3.3 per
year seems extremely low. There's always something to make us
depressed. Maybe they're talking about severe depression. The kind
that makes you curl up in a ball and demand to know why you still
exist. It does seem like three of them a year would be more than
When it comes to healthy behavior, we
pretty much stink on ice. An estimated 37 percent of us smoke (in
this day and age!), which is way above the state rate of 24 percent
and pretty much crushes the national average of 14 percent.
Thirty four percent of us are obese,
which is just above the state average of 34 percent and a little
higher than the national average of 25 percent. Tying into that
number, 32 percent of us never get any physical exercise, at least
nothing more than walking from house to car and vice versa.
Statewide, 30 percent of us are inactive, while nationally it's 21
Here's a number that gave me pause.
Only 8 percent of us are considered heavy drinkers in Monroe County.
Now, granted, I have no interest in alcohol, and most of the people I
know don't have much interest in alcohol (we seek our own in
certain things), but I've known a lot of drunks and 8 percent seems
kind of low.
Perhaps tying into that number, it's
expected that about 28 of us will die in car wrecks. Considering some
years we can have 20 people die in car wrecks, and the next year have
six, that seems like a very random number. I don't put much stock
Nineteen percent of us are uninsured,
which I found surprising. I thought it'd be much higher, but then I
remembered TennCare, not to mention all the Medicare/Medicaid stuff.
There is one primary care physician (the person you see for regular checkups and to find out why that
cough won't go away) for every 2,686 of us, which would go a long
way to explain why you never see a poor doctor. Just think about all
those people paying an average of $150 to see their doctor and you
can perhaps understand why some people just keep on coughing instead
of trying to get treated.
There were some non-health numbers
listed, including 84 percent of us being high school graduates (a
little higher than the state average of 79 percent) and 36 percent
having some college. An estimated 31 percent of children live in
poverty in Monroe County while 28 percent live in singe-parent
households. These all contribute to our health state, but that's a
subject for another time.
And finally, in a number that probably
explains everything, an estimated 52 percent of us eat fast food on a
regular basis. Grease and fat, always good for a healthy diet!
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