How unhealthy are people in Harris County? Very, study says

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HOUSTON – A study by the Harris County Public Health was released Tuesday assessing the county's overall health and gave recommendations for improvements. 

The report, "Harris Cares: A 2020 Vision of Health in Harris County," gave several recommendations that will help improve the health of county residents. The study was based on access to health care, mental health, injury, transportation and emergency preparedness among others. 

So, how unhealthy is Harris County? Very, according to the study. 

Here are the following health-related findings: 

- One-in-three youth aged 12-17 is overweight or obese in Harris County. In some communities, more than 50% of adults are obese. 

-  About one-in-five adults don't have health insurance, with some communities having more than one-in-three adults without health insurance. 

- With the county's fast population growth, its health care infrastructure is behind, which makes health care access more difficult. 

"The goal of the health study is to improve the quality of life for Harris County residents in addition to increasing life expectancy, which varies across the county. County average life expectancy is 78.7, however, some census tracts are as low as 65 years and others as high as 89 years," said Dr. Umair A. Shah, executive director of HCPH. "Where you live often determines how well and how long you live."  

Here's what the study is recommending to help improve the county's health: 

- Drive systems-level change through prevention and upstream focused solutions that incorporate health and social services in a more integrated and effective manner.

- Strengthen the integration of health services and systems by coordinating the delivery of existing health care services, and developing new health care infrastructure were needed to improve access to health care across the community.

- Enhance the safety net system to address better the ongoing health needs of Harris County residents who are under or uninsured, including through the creation of a new, robust delivery model called "Harris Care."  

- Align strategies across the existing county and municipal governmental departments that impact health to improve communication, coordination and collaboration.

- Streamline and integrate health care and prevention services across Harris County and the City of Houston.

You can find a summary of the full report by clicking the link here.

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