|Males in county are dying younger|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Joel Addington|
|Thursday, 25 August 2011 08:44|
Despite huge advances in health, nutrition and medicine during the last two decades, men in Baker County are dying sooner than they did in 1987.
That revelation surfaced recently when the University of Washington published a report in June on life expectancy of males and females nationwide. It showed that men in Baker County lived to an average age of 68.6 years in 1987. But by 2007, the average dropped slightly to 68.1 years, shaving six months off the average male’s life span.
Baker County and Union County were two of the six locations in the United States where life expectancy among men declined during that period. La Paz County in Arizona led the pack with a 1.1-year drop in average life expectancy.
James Ruise of Margaretta intends to buck that trend, however.“I’m trying to live,” he said during a break in his workout at the YMCA gym the afternoon of August 23. The 46-year-old retired corrections officer and Baker County native said he stays healthy by playing basketball, lifting weights at the Y and eating right.
“I got an 11-year-old son so I got to keep up with him,” said Mr. Ruise.
An expert at the University of Washington, Ali Mokdad with the school’s Institute of for Health Metrics and Evaluation, pointed to three preventable causes of the backslide — high rates of obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.
When it comes to overweight or obese men, Baker County topped its neighbors with 76.3 percent of adult males falling into the category last year. Union and Baker County also had the highest percentage of strictly obese men in the region at 43.5 and 40.1 percent, respectively.Nearly 12 percent of guys here were diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 and 11.3 percent with a heart attack or heart disease that year, the second largest percentages in Northeast Florida behind Union County.
And the share of Baker County men who smoke was 22.8 percent in 2010, the third highest in the region and well above the state average of 17.1 percent.
Macclenny chiropractor Dr. Jim Cardoza, whose been treating patients here for more than 10 years, agreed that such factors are likely culprits in the shortening average male lifespan.
“As to the why?” he said by e-mail this week, “I suppose that the big three are cultural, socio-economic and apathy. People learn certain behaviors at an early age that are hard to change. They continue to model those behaviors to their children and it becomes a vicious circle. Poor eating habits and smoking are the gateway habits that lead to obesity, high blood pressure and lung disease.”
Likewise, they are all identified as risk factors for heart disease and cancer, the leading causes of death among Baker County men.
In fact, cancer or heart disease contributed to nearly 75 percent of all adult male deaths in 2009, according to the latest mortality statistics from the Florida Department of Health.
Dr. Cardoza applauded the health department’s efforts in recent years to combat obesity in elementary schools and curb tobacco use among middle and high school students.
“If you can change those behaviors early in school, perhaps it will lead to better health later on in life,” he said.
Still, the doctor believes each man’s health is largely in his own hands.
“The health department, as well as all of the local physicians, have been very pro-active in promoting good health choices, but some responsibility has to fall on the population,” he said. “Until folks make some simple choices like more healthy eating habits, not smoking and exercise, those chronic conditions will continue to plague the county.”
Charles McCoy, member services associate at the Y, said he’d like to see more men participating in the Y’s exercise programs including yoga, cardiovascular and strength training workouts, and the Silver Sneakers program for seniors.
“When we’re young our bodies do most of the work for us, but when we’re older [exercise] is much more important,” he said.
|Last Updated on Friday, 26 August 2011 09:38|