LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Sept. 24, 2012) - A July 2012 article in Health.com listed Arkansas in the 10 worst states for women's health - along with Mississippi, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The ranking was determined from statistics and information gathered from The National Women's Law institute, the Guttmacher Institute and Kaiser Family Foundation.
Arkansas made the list because of high rates of obesity (almost 2/3 of Arkansas women are overweight or obese), smoking (19% as compared to US overall 15%), sedentary living, heart disease and diabetes. Deaths from heart disease and diabetes are both higher than the national average.
Life expectancy for women declined in more than one in five counties in Arkansas.
On this Medical Monday, Dr. Kay Chandler of Cornerstone Clinic for Women joins us with details on several programs available to Arkansan women that can help them improve their health and change those statistics.
The Arkansas Department of Health offers assistance with smoking cessation through its Stamp Out Smoking program. Just call 1-800- QUITNOW or click on www.stampoutsmoking.com.
Through the Arkansas Tobacco quit line, you can get free, confidential, one-on-one help either online or by phone. Find 24 hour support from a professionally trained quit coach...even the latest nicotine replacement therapy meds at no cost.
Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight
Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and even some cancers have a direct link to overweight and obesity. But even a small weight loss (5-10% of your current body weight) can decrease your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Need to know if your weight may be increasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes or other health problems? Click here. You will find some helpful info on how your BMI (body mass index) and waist measurement affect your health.
Check out the "Check Your BMI" link to calculate your BMI. A BMI calculator and other helpful information can be accessed through the Arkansas Health Department at www.healthy.arkansas.gov - obesity prevention.
There are many programs/ strategies available for weight loss. But weight loss is only the first step. The second step is keeping it off. That's why it is so important to develop healthy long-term eating habits rather than just do something that will cause weight loss but no long-term change.
Some of Dr. Chandler's favorite long-term eating habits:
- Eat breakfast - Don't skip meals - doing that can slow your metabolism.
- Drink at least 64 ounces of water daily- avoid cokes, sodas (even diet) etc. Our bodies can sometimes mistake thirst for hunger. Feeling hungry? Try drinking a big glass of cold water first.
- Eat 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruit daily (with most of those being low glycemic veggies). Keep some veggies washed, chopped up in bite size pieces to make them more available when those hunger pangs hit.
- Avoid processed/boxed foods. Shop the outside aisles of the grocery store. One study showed the biggest predictor of weight gain was availability. If you don't buy the ice cream, candy, chips etc, they won't be in your refrigerator or pantry to tempt you!
Increase Physical Activity
Studies have shown that even just walking 20-30 minutes daily can reduce your chances of developing diabetes by 40%. It increases energy levels too! Do something you enjoy, add some variety and find someone to exercise with you. Studies also show that people who exercise with a friend were more consistent and more likely to stick with it!
Get Regular Health Screenings
See your doctor at least yearly for preventative health screening. Even though pap guidelines have changed (pap screening should begin at 21 and then not necessarily yearly), women still need a yearly pelvic exam. The need for additional tests can be determined on an individual basis by your doctor. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends annual screening mammograms.
For the uninsured or underinsured, AR Breast Care (through the AR Dept of Health) offers mammograms, clinical breast exams, pelvic and pap tests, as well as follow up tests free of charge for qualifying women.