New health index shows how poor rural health factors affect East Texas
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A new report from the Hibbs Institute at the University of Texas at Tyler shows just how much poor health outcomes in rural counties can affect the entire region. The latest Hibbs Health Index was created by examining factors like smoking, obesity, and premature death rates.
The Tyler metropolitan statical area ranks near the top of the list when compared to other regions in the five-state area, while Longview ranks closer to the bottom. Researchers point out a major difference in the two areas. The Tyler area includes only Smith County, while the Longview area includes rural counties like Rusk and Upshur.
“Once you get into those outer areas, the rural areas, that health status continues to be challenging and in decline in many areas,” McGaha said.
And for that reason, the Longview area, including those rural counties, ranked lower when it comes to things like life expectancy the number of doctors.
“When it comes to behaviors and health habits in rural areas, we have more problems with obesity, tobacco use, lack of exercise, and things like that,” McGaha said. “Which are keeping their health status lower comparatively speaking than Smith County.”
McGaha says the findings revealed by reports like this were a driving factor in establishing the new UT Tyler School of Medicine, and he hopes matching that with other efforts will lead to a healthier East Texas.
We need to look at some of the behaviors we’re engaged in and look at how we can control hypertension better, how we can lose more weight, and above all, how we can stop tobacco use,” McGaha said.
- Click here to read the Hibbs Institute Health Index Technical Report.
- Click here to read the Hibbs Institute Health Index Brief.
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