Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Are you your own worst enemy?

The Business Journal recently reported the findings from an Aurora Health Care public health survey ("Violence cited as top city health problem.")

Violence was stated as the city of Milwaukee’s top health problem followed by alcohol and drug use and chronic disease. The article states 58% of those surveyed felt violence was one of the 3 biggest health issues Milwaukee faces. However, obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, are the main concern of insurance companies (Fischer, 2007). So what should one be more concerned about in Milwaukee? Violence or chronic disease? The answer may depend upon your age group.

The Wisconsin Interactive Statistics on Health from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services allows users to query for the most prevalent causes of mortality in our seven county area. The data from the graph above suggests people’s fears of violence as a health concern may be warranted if you are young. Ages 15-29 are more likely to be killed by violence versus cancer or heart disease, and they are even more likely to die in an accident.

There may be several reasons why more people in the survey feared violence versus chronic disease. The immediate danger of someone being the victim of a criminal act may be more frightening than the prolonged danger of developing a chronic disease. Lets say you were to put a person in a room with a serial killer and a doughnut; chances are your test subject would be much more fearful of the murderer. However, in the real world we are more likely to be tempted by junk food versus chased by violent criminals. It may be that people are more fearful of what others may do to them versus what they may do to themselves. Also, media attention to violence may instill fear among viewers more so than warnings about lifestyle habits leading to certain chronic diseases. Often times the six o'clock news will show a crime scene with victims being hauled off in body bags or stretchers, but they often do not show the actual victims of chronic disease fatalities.

Also check out the national odds of dying of certain diseases and injuries.

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