A recent survey has found few adults in Highland County and surrounding areas eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables.
According to a release from Interact for Health, dietary guidelines from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services recommend that each meal include half a plate of fruits and vegetables, meaning adults should eat at least two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables per day.
The 2017 Community Health Status Survey, funded by Interact for Health, shows only 22 percent of adults in Highland, Adams, Brown and Clermont counties eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, while 43 percent reported they did not meet the requirement.
The numbers are an improvement from previous years, according to the report, which shows that in 2013, only 18 percent of adults in the area met government guidelines, and 48 percent did not.
Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said the report comes as no surprise, since previous studies have shown similar results.
“Looking at our areas of healthy eating compared to other parts of Ohio, we don’t eat as healthy as we should, and we don’t move around as much as we should,” he said. “We’ve got to eat healthy and be more active. A lot of the preventable health issues that can pop up for you, especially later in life, are directly related to our diet and our activities, and some of our other habits. That’s one of our big messages from the health department.”
Warner said high rates of obesity and tobacco use are also prevalent in Highland County, and, for the most part, people know it.
“We don’t have a very good opinion of our own health,” Warner told The Times-Gazette, citing a separate sudy from 2015 that showed many people in the area understand they don’t eat as healthy or exercise as much as they should. “As a county, we tend to know we’re not that healthy, but at the same time, we’re not doing that much to change it.”
Warner said that by and large, the county isn’t as unhealthy as it could be, although there are areas for improvement.
“We’re not a terribly unhealthy population,” he said. “We’ve got some good things going for us, but we’ve got some areas to improve, too… One of the things we did really well on was that we had a better sense of community. We take care of each other better and rely on our neighbors more” than in urban areas.
“You could say our houses are further apart, but our people are closer together,” Warner said, although that does little to contribute to community health.
“There’s definitely a benefit in knowing you can rely on your neighbors, and there’s a resilience in knowing we can take care of ourselves if something happens, but that’s a little bit different than saying we’re a healthy community,” Warner said. “We still don’t eat well or exercise as much as we should. Those things do lead to issues later on.”
Warner said the Highland County Health Department has been working with other county entities to finalize a community health improvement plan.
“We’re at a point right now where we’re trying to take actual steps toward addressing some of these things,” he said. “I think that’s a positive thing, and there’s more to come on that.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.