More Kitsap residents living in poverty, report shows

The number of young people in Kitsap County who report that they have seriously considered attempting suicide is increasing. The number of adult drug-related deaths in the county is going up. And the number of residents living in poverty is rising.

But the number of youth who are using alcohol has dropped. The number of property crimes are down and the number of firearm deaths in Kitsap County has dropped slightly.

Those are just some of the findings in the 2014 Kitsap County Public Health District’s Core Public Health Indicators report that was released Tuesday to the Kitsap Public Health Board. The annual report looks at data from a number of local, state and federal sources and is used by the health district to target what services are needed and where funding should be spent.

County Epidemiologist Siri Kushner walked the board through the data, noting that many of the health indicators are inter-related.

“When you see employment rates lower, and education rates lower, then that’s when behavior risks increase,” she said.

The numbers released this week are compared to data from all previous years that data were collected in each individual category.

According to health district officials, the indicators focus on who are we, how healthy are we, how healthy are our lifestyles and behaviors, and how safe are our surroundings.

Questions are asked in the following categories: education, employment, economic well-being, health care access, general health, emotional well-being, dental health, communicable diseases, chronic diseases, weight management, physical activity and nutrition, tobacco use, substance use, natural environment (such as air quality), built environment (such as motor vehicle accidents) and crime and safety.

Data are also compared to state averages to determine if residents in Kitsap County are doing better or worse that those throughout the state as a whole.

Kitsap eighth graders who reported seriously considering a suicide attempt went from 12 percent in 2006 to 18 percent in 2013. The total number (in Kitsap County) who said they had made a serious suicide attempt was 1,920.

Drug-related deaths were up from 11 (per 100,000 residents) in 1999 to 16 in 2012. In 2013, the homeless rate was 1,066 (per 100,000) residents who are homeless, as compared to 226 per 100,000 in 2003. More residents in Kitsap County are living below the federal government’s poverty rate and more are relying on public school free or reduced lunch program, results showed. Households that are spending more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing costs has climbed from 32 percent in 2000 to 39 percent in 2012.

On the positive side, fewer young people reported using alcohol, dropping from 16 percent in 2006 to 11 percent in 2012, the latest data available. Fewer women in Kitsap County are smoking during pregnancy, dropping by 6 percent from 20 percent in 1998 to 14 percent in 2012. But Kitsap County’s rate is still higher than the state average, the report showed.

Property crimes in Kitsap County have dropped from 3,856 to 2,896 per 100,000 residents from 1998 to 2011. But violent crime and firearm deaths have stayed about the same in that time frame.

Kitsap County fares well regarding environmental concerns with more healthy air days than in 2001. The rate has increased from 83 percent to 98 percent. Kitsap’s water quality has stayed the same as has its illnesses related to unsafe food, water or hygiene. Kitsap’s convenience and fast food restaurant density has increased per 100,000 residents, up from 65 to 74 since 1998.

Other areas where Kitsap County fared well were in the rates of adults with more than a high school education and pregnant women with more than a high school education, both of which increased in 2012.

Areas where Kitsap didn’t fare as well as that state average were in births paid by Medicaid, rates of chlamydia and chronic Hepatitis C.

Kitsap’s high school graduation rate stayed about the same dropping 1 percent from 85 percent in 2011 to 84 percent in 2013.

Scott Daniels, administrator for the health district, said the report also showed that about two-thirds of the adults in Kitsap County are at an unhealthy weight and a quarter of youth, too, are overweight.

“It’s disturbing that it hasn’t dropped,” he said. “Especially where the youth are concerned.”

Mayor Patty Lent, chair of the Kitsap Public Health Board, said the data helps the county understand health trends.

“We’re pretty progressive and aggressive in reporting and dealing with our health issues,” Lent said. “The data is a way to see what our issues are and what we need to address.”

Data comes from the U.S. Census, the U.S. Bureau of Labor, Washington state Department of Social and Health Services, vital statistics, hospitals and the Health District Environmental Health programs.

To see the entire report, go to Search for 2014 Core Public Health Indicators.


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