Monday, October 20, 2003

City bottoms out on women's health

By Peggy O'Farrell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A national magazine ranks Cincinnati 198th out of 200 cities for women's health.

The November edition of Self, which hits newsstands Oct. 28, busts Greater Cincinnati for higher than average rates of smoking, obesity, inactivity and STDs, says Sara Austin, senior features editor of the magazine.

"You could get out and exercise a bit more," Austin says.

The Queen City gets good grades for the percentage of women with health insurance, higher than average access to obstetrician/gynecologists and psychiatrists and accredited child care.

Burlington, Vt., was ranked the healthiest city for women, with Provo-Orem, Utah, Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., Santa Barbara, Calif., and Honolulu rounding out the top five.

The bottom five: Tulsa, Rockford, Ill., Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Gary, Ind., and St. Louis.

Also in the region, Hamilton-Middletown ranked 190th, and Dayton-Springfield finished at 188th. No cities in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana cracked the top 20.

Criteria included crime rates, body mass index and smoking rates, cancer rates, environmental statistics, health care resources and resources for working.

Local experts weren't happy with the results, but they weren't exactly surprised, either.

Dr. Susan Weinberg, a diagnostic radiologist at Bethesda North Hospital, thinks more emphasis should be placed on smoking prevention, especially for teens and young women.

"I see all of the complications of smoking, so it's clearly a problem," Weinberg say.

Marcia Swehla, administrator of women's services for TriHealth, says the survey doesn't take into account some of the resources available, such as Speaking of Women's Health and hospital-based programs for education and screenings to underserved populations.But Cincinnatians could use a makeover, she concedes.

"It is true that women in Cincinnati have risk factors that put them at a higher risk for heart disease than women in other cities," Swehla says, including smoking, obesity and inactivity.

Cincinnati men haven't fared much better in surveys: Last year, Men's Health ranked Cincinnati 75th out of 101 cities for healthiest men.


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