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Crow Wing residents believe they're healthier than they are

Asked in a survey how healthy they were, Crow Wing County residents strongly reported good to excellent health status - to the tune of 89 percent.

"The reality is a disconnection," Crow Wing Energized reported in a summary of those survey results.

The survey was developed by Crow Wing Energized and the Minnesota Department of Health with the assistance of Essentia Health and Crow Wing County public health staff. It was mailed to 2,400 addresses in Crow Wing County. And 764 surveys came back for a 32 percent response rate, a statistically sound sampling which was adjusted to get a representative of the adult population of the county.

Respondents resoundly considered themselves healthy - 42 percent said very good and nearly 14 percent said excellent. Nearly 33 percent described their health as good. Those results seem to be in direct odds with other key health factors.

• Overweight/obesity - 65 percent.

• High blood pressure - 36 percent.

• High cholesterol - 33 percent.

• Arthritis - 26 percent.

• Mental health conditions - 25 percent. Survey participants were asked if they'd ever been told by a health profession they had a specific condition. And 14 percent said they were told they had diabetes. Nearly 20 percent were told they suffered from depression with nearly 13 percent listing anxiety or panic attacks. Just more than 12 percent suffered from heart trouble or angina. Other afflictions included asthma. Dropping down to less than 10 percent reporting a health professional telling them they had cancer, chronic lung disease or suffered a stroke.

In the survey, 9.3 percent of respondents said their health was fair and just 2.6 percent described it as poor.

With top factors for health and healthy aging coming from diet and fitness, the survey looked at how active adults are and what they are eating.

"Crow Wing County adults believe they are healthy but a majority have poor eating and exercise habits that contribute to existing health conditions," Crow Wing Energized reported in a survey summary.

"Sure, your genes affect your health. But your lifestyle, your environment and even chance may matter even more," the Mayo Clinic reports. "What you eat, how much you exercise, how well you control your blood pressure and whether you smoke all play a role in whether you actually develop a heart condition. Stack the cards in your favor with healthy lifestyle choices."

In an effort to gauge attitudes about food choices, the survey asked if people found it difficult to prepare fruits and vegetables or whether they were too costly. The vast majority didn't find preparation difficult but 42.3 percent said the cost was high. The study found two of three adults are not getting the recommended five or more fruits and vegetables per day.

"Two out of three adults who are not meeting the recommended daily allowance of fruit and vegetables are overweight or obese, the study noted.

Additionally, two out of three adults are not getting the recommended moderate or vigorous physical activity recommendations," Crow Wing Energized reported, adding moderate exercise causes a small increase in breathing or heart rate while vigorous creates a large increase in both.

Survey respondents listed a lack of time or cost as the two biggest barriers in terms of physical activity. Others pointed to a lack of motivation or willpower, but a vast majority said there wasn't a barrier to being active. Most people, nearly 70 percent, worked out at home. Just more than 50 percent used parks and trails and 15.6 percent used a health club, gym or fitness center.

For Crow Wing Energized, the study results show a gap exists between what people consider their health to be and what it actually is, along with what they are doing, or not doing, to stay healthy in terms of physical activity and a healthy diet.

Crow Wing County health by the numbers

• One out of four adults is affected by mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.

• 18 percent, or one out of five, adults use tobacco.

• 28 percent, nearly one in three, adults delayed or did not get needed dental care in the past two years. For most, nearly 75 percent, money was the chief factor and nearly 40 percent reported they don't have dental insurance.

• 31 percent of adults report binge drinking - defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more for men on one occasion.

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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