Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

Published April 11 2018
Updated April 13 2018

A new snapshot of the nationís health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.

Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing their heart disease. But obesity is on the rise. People are more active, but not enough to compensate for their eating habits. Drinking, smoking and drug use continue to take their toll, especially in poorer communities where fast-food restaurants are more accessible than grocery stores or parks.

The study, "The State of U.S. Health," published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that Floridaís top five health dangers include smoking, high body-mass index, high blood sugar and blood pressure and drug use. Smoking is still the major risk factor in death and disability and ó as is the case nationally ó opioid abuse is a growing problem.

Yet while people in Florida born today are living longer, as they are nationwide, the years that Floridians will enjoy healthy lives is barely above the national average. Thatís out of step with the picture of the Sunshine State as an active, outdoor and clean environment rich with leading medical care. Too many residents indulge in the wrong behaviors, go without a doctor or live in places without access to healthy options. This should be an issue for residents, elected officials, the health care industry and insurers alike. The health of every resident, good or bad, is a reflection of this state. We have no excuse for not being leaders.