The theme of this year’s National Women’s Health Week is “It’s Your Time”—a slogan intended to empower women to make their health a top priority. National Women’s Health Week, which is a health observance coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, will begin on May 8th and continue until May 11th this year. This Week brings together health organizations, government, business, communities along with other groups in an effort to promote women’s health. Women are encouraged to take steps to improve their physical and mental health AND lower their risks for certain diseases. National Women’s Health Week targets specific health behaviors for women, including: getting regular physical activity, eating a nutritious diet, receiving regular checkups and preventive screenings, avoiding risky behaviors (such as smoking), and paying attention to mental health.
This month, in honor of National Women’s Health Week, the CHDB is highlighting data on women’s health from the 2010 Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) Household Health Survey. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey is a biennial, random digit dial telephone survey of over 10,000 households in the five-county region—Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.
This article will focus on key health indicators for women 18 years and older living in Southeastern Pennsylvania, such as health status and chronic conditions, physical activity, diet and obesity, preventive screenings, smoking, and mental health.
Health Status and Chronic Conditions
Approximately 276,300 women (18+) in SEPA, 17.2% of women, self-identify as being in fair or poor health.
Many women in the SEPA region suffer from chronic illnesses, including asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure.
National Women’s Health Week encourages women to get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous physical activity, or a combination of both, each week.
Diet and Obesity
National Women’s Health Week also encourages women to eat a nutritious diet. The Office on Women’s Health provides suggestions for healthy eating and resources for doing so (http://www.womenshealth.gov/FitnessNutrition/eatinghealthy/).
Approximately 41% of women (18+) in SEPA eat two or fewer servings of fruits and vegetables per day—nearly 652,000 women across the region.
An important component of nutrition and disease prevention is maintaining a healthy weight. Nearly 420,000 women (18+) in the region (27%) are considered obese and another 459,500 considered overweight (29.5%) based on the Body Mass Index (BMI).
Another integral part of disease prevention and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is getting routine check-ups and screenings.
Smoking is a key risky behavior highlighted by National Women’s Health Week. One fifth of women (18+) in SEPA (19.6%) currently smoke cigarettes (approximately 313,400 women).
Paying attention to one’s mental health, including managing stress, is another focus of National Women’s Health Week. In the Household Health Survey, survey respondents were asked to rate their level of stress on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 signifying no stress and 10 signifying an extreme amount of stress. Responses of 7 or higher are categorized as high levels of stress.
The data above show a wide range of needs still exist when it comes to women’s health in this region. In addition, it is evident that poverty status, race and ethnicity are key social determinants of health, and women living in Philadelphia are at greater risk for poor health. Addressing these health disparities will be important in order to improve the health of women across Southeastern Pennsylvania.
National Women’s Health Week is one effort to promote women’s health across the country and to empower women to make healthier choices. For those interested in the events that are taking place in the region and state during National Women’s Health Week, click here: http://www.womenshealth.gov/whw/events/ OR for general information on National Women’s Health Week, click here: http://www.womenshealth.gov/whw/.
To learn more about this article and/or the Community Health Data Base, please contact Sarah Ingerman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 267.350.7695.
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