Oct 14, 2021 - News
Iowa's health report card
Illustration of a wrench turn a red cross
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Iowa lost ground on 95 of the more than 250 measures used to track our progress meeting health goals as part of a five-year statewide initiative, according to a recent report.

  • Yes, but: We improved in 138 measures. (23 haven't changed.)

Why it matters: The initiative is part of a public health benchmark that sets the state's agenda for helping Iowans live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

  • Its results influence how state resources and grants are allocated.

Background: The Iowa Department of Public Health coordinates the state health assessment and improvement plan, called Healthy Iowans, in collaboration with about 100 different organizations or advisory groups.

State of play: The report tracks everything from obesity and alcohol use to mental health and vegetable consumption. Here are the big takeaways:

  • 🙂 The good: Death rates caused by cancer and heart disease have decreased.
  • ☹️ The bad: Obesity, suicide and STD rates increased.
  • ​​Of note: Some of the measurements show that low-income families and people of color continue to face far greater health challenges.

Be smart: Losing ground on some measures is a part of life. It can be influenced by factors like a pandemic that are unaccounted for in original health improvement plans.

  • Iowa's plan is revised every year to account for some of the emerging issues.
  • The initiative's previous plan (2012-2016) also didn't meet some of its baseline goals but nonetheless helped Iowa reduce serious problems like smoking and AIDS.

What's next: A 2022-2026 plan will be developed in the coming months, as the final report will for this cycle is expected next year.

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