KC Currents
11:01 am
Mon July 15, 2013

KC Regional Health Assessment Finds Rising Rates of Obesity, Poverty

Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo. serves many low-income families in the area.
Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo. serves many low-income families in the area.
Credit Voidxor / Wikimedia--CC

The REACH Healthcare Foundation recently released the Kansas City Regional Health Assessment, that analyzes health data from the area from 2000 to 2011, and offers a forecast of what’s in the future for health in Kansas City.

"The poverty rate has been increasing in the metropolitan area, and generally it's been especially increasing in suburban areas," says author and Government Innovations Forum Director for the Mid America Regional Council, Dean Katnerdahl. "So there's sort of a suburbanization of poverty."

The assessment found that poverty in the metro area has increased by 75 percent since 2000, and that the number of elderly people in the area will double in the next three decades.

"Generally the poverty rate for the metropolitan area is somewhat below the national average, but we're sort of closing that gap over the past ten or eleven years," Katnerdahl says.

The recession has contributed significantly to the rising poverty rate, which has lead to an increase in people on Medicaid, says Katnerdahl. A quarter of the population is currently uninsured or on Medicaid.

The report also details the link between poverty, minority communities and health.

"There's quite a bit of correlation between poverty and race and medical outcomes," Katnerdahl says. "So you can see communities that have lower incomes, or are predominately people of color, tend to have poorer health outcomes."

The report also found that regional obesity rates are below the national average, but in all 11 counties surveyed, the obesity and diabetes rates are increasing.

"We're closing that gap," Katnerdahl says. "We're doing better than the national average, but we're closing that gap."

You can read the whole report here.