Tobacco use and obesity remain the leading causes of preventable death and illness in Kansas. Approximately 1 in 3 Kansans are obese (34.4%), and 17 percent of Kansans smoke. KHF invests in programs and supports policy efforts that promote healthy eating, physical activity and tobacco use prevention. Some of this work is focused on encouraging healthier individual behaviors, and some is shaping the environment so Kansans have access to healthy food and ways to be physically active. And, other efforts are to change policies to affect larger populations.
Obesity is a key measure of overall health, as those classified as obese face greater risk of cardiovascular diseases and multiple types of cancer. According to the most recent edition of the State of Obesity report, Kansas had the 12th highest adult obesity rate in the nation at 34.4%. This number has continued to climb throughout the past decade. In the map below, county-level adult obesity rates in Kansas are shown. The rates stated come from the 2019 County Health Rankings report.
Within the Healthy Behaviors impact area KHF seeks to increase physical activity and improve access to healthy foods. Both of these goals could contribute to lowering the adult obesity rate in Kansas. Currently, KHF is working to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables in rural areas through a rural grocery initiative and is supporting community food banks and adult activity programs.
Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of death and disability in Kansas and nationwide. Use of tobacco, particularly smoking, significantly increases the risk of multiple cancers (including, lung and oral cancers) and cardiovascular disease. The map below shows the adult smoking rates per county in Kansas. The rates state come from the 2019 County Health Rankings report.
Within the Healthy Behaviors impact area KHF seeks to decrease the rate of tobacco usage in all forms. This includes smoking, vaping and smokeless tobacco use. Through the years, KHF has funded the Tobacco Free Kansans Coalition, worked to make school grounds and campuses smokefree, advocated for the Clean Indoor Air Act and funded multiple statewide awareness campaigns. Though the smoking rate has dropped significantly over the years, the deadly consequences of tobacco use make KHF committed to continued work in this area.
Heart disease is a condition indicative of a number of underlying health issues and behaviors, such as obesity and tobacco use. By measuring the number of people admitted for heart disease-related ailments, it is possible to gain an understanding of the health risks facing a given area, as well as the toll these health factors take on health care resources. The map below shows the number of heart disease-related hospital admissions, per county, based on a population of 10,000 people. This data utilizes data gathered from 2015-2017 and published by Kansas Health Matters.
Within the Healthy Behaviors impact area KHF seeks to increase physical activity and improve access to healthy foods. Both of these goals could contribute to lowering the adult obesity rate in Kansas, which in turn, could lower rates of heart disease for Kansans.
Diabetes rates, much like obesity rates, continue to climb in Kansas. Obesity, a lack of exercise and a poor diet are among the leading risk factors for diabetes. The map below shows, by county, the number of diabetes-related hospital admissions per 10,000-Kansans. This data comes from Kansas Health Matters, a data resource for the state of Kansas.
Though diabetes is a result rather than an underlying health issue, KHF continues to track this data because of its relation to obesity, physical activity and healthy eating.
Every month, our electronic newsletter, Health Happenings, features a story about a focus area, grant, partnership or program involving the Foundation.