People Indicators:

Education Impact on Behavior Diabetes Maternal Mortality & Prenatal Care Mental Health Mortality Rate Obesity

The greater Houston region is average or below average on health indicators as compared to other areas in the U.S. Being average does not reveal marked health disparities among different racial and economic groups, nor does it necessarily result in desirable health outcomes. The good news is that mortality rates are falling over time for all ethnic groups. The concerning news is that both diabetes and obesity rates have increased steadily. More than one in four in the Houston ten-county region is obese, surpassing all of our competitor regions except Dallas. Alarmingly, only a small percentage of residents are engaging in healthy behaviors such as exercise and consumption of fruits and vegetables that may reduce the incidence of obesity and diabetes. In most cases, higher levels of education are correlated with healthier behavior and preventative measures such as dental care, as well as prenatal care in the first trimester. While one in five Houstonians has a mental illness, state-supported mental health services are underfunded. Good health is not just a quality of life issue. Higher incidence of disease and health risk behaviors imposes economic costs. These costs include medical resources to treat diseases arising from preventable conditions, employee and employer losses imposed by absenteeism and lost productivity, and the opportunity cost of time and money devoted to responding to preventable morbidity. For example, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) models estimate that annual smoking health care expenditures in 2011 were $97 billion and that productivity losses associated with smoking were $96 billion per year.

The most significant health problem facing the nation and the nine counties is the rising level of obesity and its attendant personal and economic costs. A 2010 report by McKinsey and Company estimated that the increased spending the U.S. is likely to incur because of obesity may be as much as $450 billion by 2018 (McKinsey, 2010). A more recent McKinsey study estimates the global economic impact of obesity to be almost $12 trillion annually, or 2.8% of global GDP (McKinsey Global Institute, 2014).