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Childhood Immunization Rate Up, Obesity Down, in 9-County Finger Lakes Region

The nine-county Finger Lakes region is making gains in the battle against childhood and adult obesity, as well as the effort to get more children immunized.

Those are some of the findings from the latest measurements that follow the progress of a set of key health indicators.

The childhood obesity rate, based on the percentage of children who have a BMI of 30.0 or greater, was 16.1 percent from data collected in 2012-2014.  That’s down from 18 percent in 2010-2012.

As of 2013, 64.5 percent of children in the region received the recommended vaccinations by the age of three, an improvement from the 49.7 percent who did in 2009.             

"What I will say is there is a lot of room to improve there, still,” said Albert Blankley, director of research and analytics at Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency. “One of the things that New York State does through its Prevention Agenda is provide targets, and the target for that particular measure is 80 percent."

The report indicates a couple of areas of concern. There was an increase in the number of visits to emergency departments resulting in a behavioral health diagnosis.

"As we see that trend continue to increase, it raises questions about whether or not there are enough resources for the community for mental health and substance abuse disorder issues outside of the emergency department; so patients are turning to the ED as a last resort," Blankley said.

There was also an upward trend in the rate of ED visits by patients over 65, indicating the need for more home or community resources for the senior population.

"This would allow them to get access to care in a way that is going to be both easier for them and more cost effective," said Blankley.

The health measurements collected state and local data based on recommendations from business and public health groups and other community stakeholders. They are used to inform the types of public health programs that are implemented in the region.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.