Around two thirds of Michigan is overweight and a third are obese. That’s according to researchers who presented data at the West Michigan Health Care Economic Forecast Friday morning. Meanwhile, researchers from Grand Valley State and Tulane universities have found the rate of people without health insurance in Michigan has dropped below 10 percent, yet barriers to obtaining health care remain problematic.
Kevin Callison, assistant professor of global health management and policy at Tulane University, and Leslie Muller, assistant professor of economics at Grand Valley, presented the Health Check report during the ninth annual West Michigan Health Care Economic Forecast held at the Eberhard Center Friday morning.
“The obesity rate in Michigan looks pretty similar to the national rate of obesity so its approaching 35 percent of the population," Callison said. "If you combine that with the population that is overweight, its about two thirds of the population.”
West Michigan however, is still relatively healthier than the east side of the state.
“I think you if you compare the west side of the state to the east side of the state it is pretty clear that the west side of the state is far healthier than the east side of the state," Callison said. "Health and income tend to track pretty closely together, and so if you look at poverty rates and things like that those tend to be higher on the east side of the state, which leads to some worst health outcomes.”
While 10 percent of Michigan residents lack health care coverage, the report found only 8 percent of Kent County residents are uninsured. However, one in five people in the area who are covered still have a difficult time affording medical care and/or prescription drugs.
According to the report, the number of people without health insurance fell more than 18 percent from 2011 to 9.9 percent in 2016. The report attributed the decrease to Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act.
This story has been updated. Originally it was reported that "only 3 percent of Kent County residents are uninsured." However, that number is 8 percent.