Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County

Erin Jeffreys / Florida Department of Health in Escambia County

The Florida Departments of Health in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and their partner organizations recently released their 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment.

The document identifies the top health priorities for both counties for the next couple of years.

A recent study shows that childhood obesity continues to increase across the country. With few exceptions, the rate of obesity among children is also on the rise at the state and local level.

The national study shows 35.1 percent of children in the U.S. were overweight in 2016. That’s a 4.7 percent increase compared to 2014. Overall, the statistics reflect continuation of a three decades rise in obesity among youth from age 2 to 19.

Locally, there’s reason for optimism if you consider the obesity rate among children in the 2-5 year age range.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As the 2017 calendar year drew to a close, flu activity levels in Florida continued to increase sharply for the fourth week in a row, including a spike locally. For public health officials, it’s a good time to remind residents to protect themselves from the flu by getting vaccinated.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

January is usually the midway point of the flu season in Florida. The state Department of Health reports that levels of the disease remained elevated overall for a second consecutive week.

Mild influenza activity was reported in 51 counties, including Escambia and Santa Rosa, during the week of January 1-7, the latest available figures. Ten counties reported moderate influenza activity, and six reported no activity.

In 2015, smoking among adults in Florida dropped to 15.8 percent, the lowest it has ever been. State health officials are celebrating the decline and giving much of the credit to passage of a constitutional amendment ten years ago.

In the late 1990's, Florida was one of just four states to craft its own multi-billion dollar settlement with the nation’s big tobacco companies. About a decade later, Florida voters approved a ballot measure mandating that the state use part of that money to provide a dedicated funding source for smoking prevention education.

CDC

Senator Bill Nelson is filing legislation that would provide the $1.9 billion that President Obama says is needed to fight the spread of the Zika virus. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 358 Zika cases in the United States as of Tuesday. Agency Director Thomas Frieden recently told Fox News that their largest concern is how Zika may affect pregnant women.

Photo via Flickr// Apotek Hjartat / https://flic.kr/p/nK5jct

Schools are still a month away from the being in session, but health officials are already reminding parents to make sure their child’s vaccinations are up to date. Sherry Smith, the Director of Student Services for the Santa Rosa County School District says the disctrict's school had a 98% vaccination rate for the last school year

American Diabetes Association

The Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County is offering a new program, aimed at heading off the onset of Type-2 diabetes in those most prone to develop the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three American adults has pre-diabetes.

“Pre-diabetes means that your blood sugar on average is higher than it should be, but it’s not yet at the threshold for a diagnosis of diabetes,” said Sandra Park-O’Hara, Administrator of the Department of Health in Santa Rosa.

Let's Go Northwest Florida

Health officials in Santa Rosa County have announced a plan to improve the overall health of county residents. The plan was first announced last year and has been reviewed and revised. Joann Vanfleteren, Operations Review Specialist for the Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County says the state DOH created an initiative for for community health improvement planning. All 67 Florida counties are required to create the Community Health Improvement Plan.