WICHITA — The median income of households in Sedgwick County is on the decline, and the number of students enrolled in free- or reduced-lunch programs is on the rise, a new report from the health department shows.
Household income plays a big role in the health of a community, Sonja Armbruster told commissioners Wednesday during her presentation about the county’s 2012 health department data book. She is the community health improvement division director.
The report features a goldmine of demographic and health data, including information about births, injuries, cases of cancer, and communicable and chronic diseases. Armbruster said measuring health indicators is a “core function of public health.”
The report focuses on five health priorities: health access, health disparities, mental health, oral health, and obesity and diabetes.
Armbruster noted that 15.2 percent of county residents lived below the poverty line according to the 2010 U.S. Census. But she said that isn’t the whole story about poverty: About 40 percent of female-led households with children under age 18 live below the poverty line.
The number of students receiving help with school lunches is up in all districts in Sedgwick County, the report shows.
In 2006, 66 percent of students in the Wichita School District, for example, qualified for free- or reduced-lunch. By 2010, the percentage had increased to 74 percent.
Income, education, race and ethnicity impact access to health care, the report says, showing that 25.3 percent of African-American residents did not have health care coverage compared with 9.8 percent of white residents.
The report also shows that 45 percent of all births in Sedgwick County in 2009 were out of wedlock compared with 41 percent nationwide and 37.6 percent statewide. The report says that unmarried mothers are at higher risk of adverse birth outcomes including low birth weight and infant mortality and that children of unmarried mothers also are more likely to live in poverty.
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in Sedgwick County, followed by cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases and stroke. The leading causes of death have not changed among any age group in the past five years, the report says.
For children under 15, the leading cause is premature birth; from 15 to 24, it is motor vehicle accidents; from 25 to 44 it is other accidents and “adverse effects,” and from 45 to 64, cancer. Heart disease is the leading cause for people 65 and older.
As for oral health, screenings during the 2010-11 school year at Sedgwick County schools showed that almost 19 percent of children had untreated decay, about 43 percent had treated decay and about 3 percent needed urgent care.
About 36 percent of adults in the county in 2009 were considered overweight, and about 28 percent were obese, the report said.
Depression and anxiety among adults are more common among Sedgwick County residents than other Kansans, the report said. About 18 percent of adults said in 2010 that they had been diagnosed with depression compared with less than 15 percent statewide. Just more than 11 percent of adults said they had been diagnosed with anxiety compared with just more than 10 percent statewide.
The report notes that two-thirds of all people with diagnosable mental illnesses do not seek treatment.
Commissioner Tim Norton said the report is crucial to understanding the community’s health.
“As we move the needle of the board of health, it is important that we have good data as a baseline to understand our community,” Norton said, noting that commissioners sit as the county’s board of health.
He said such data is “critical to making good policy decisions.”
The report is available at www.sedgwickcounty.org/healthdept. Click on the “2012 Data Book” link on the right-hand side of the page.