July 23, 2014

Mixed picture for state health trends

Wisconsin residents are living longer but not feeling better. A new report by researchers at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute says the state’s progress in achieving longer and healthier lives for residents is a very mixed bag.

The Institute’s director, Karen Timberlake, said the good news is that we’re living longer. “The bad news is that pretty much all of the indicators that contribute to how people live are headed in the wrong direction,” she said.

“Obesity continues to be on the upswing, as do many of our social and economic trends like rates of high school drop-outs, and child poverty and unemployment. So it’s a pretty mixed picture when we look at the factors that we know contribute to longer and healthier lives.”

Wisconsinites are still smoking and drinking too much, eating ngs they shouldn’t and not exercising. That means people report their health as only “fair” or “poor”, and that has an economic impact, as employers are faced with rising health care costs as well as increased absenteeism and “presenteeism” – employers who show up but aren’t very productive.

The report finds that many of the health trends, if left unaddressed, will lead to poorer health outcomes and greater gaps in the future.