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Delaware Division of Public Health releases chronic disease report

Doctors at ChristianaCare are using new MR-guided focused ultrasound technology to relieve debilitating tremors in patients.
Delaware Public Media
Doctors at ChristianaCare are using new MR-guided focused ultrasound technology to relieve debilitating tremors in patients.

The Division of Public Health’s report on chronic disease is out, following up on a 2019 report.

The Burden of Chronic Disease in Delaware 2024 identifies issues related to conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes and provides recommendations to address them.

DPH’s Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention program delivered the report. Program administrator Lauren Butscher says it shows more work needs to be done on management and prevention, but the state is making some strides.

“Some notable achievements in risk factors include the dramatic decrease in cigarette smoking and binge drinking prevalence,” Butscher said.

Cigarette smoking prevalence dropped from 21.8% in 2011 to 12.9% in 2022, according to the report. Binge drinking decreased from 20.3% in 2011 to 14.0% in 2022.

The report concluded Delaware falls in the middle of U.S. states when considering chronic disease prevalence and risk factors.

It also finds chronic diseases cost the First State billions of dollars annually in health-related costs. 10% of residents have multiple chronic conditions, and chronic diseases make up seven of the top 10 leading causes of death in the state, according to the report.

Recommendations include focusing on inequities in public health.

The report recommends the state improve by increasing community-level outreach to at-risk populations and increasing access to cancer screenings, which would help people detect abnormalities and begin treatment sooner.

“The report also highlights important racial disparities related to chronic disease and related risk factors, and really emphasizes the need to address health inequities related to chronic disease to achieve long term health outcomes for all Delawareans,” Butscher said.

The report suggests several ways to tackle this issue, including increasing access to healthy food options in corner stores and promoting the use of SNAP benefits at local farmers’ markets.

The report also recommends building environments that promote regular physical activity, such as more walkable and green spaces and accessible transportation.

It also advises the state fund more research to identify areas in need and their respective initiatives to deliver solutions.

With degrees in journalism and women’s and gender studies, Abigail Lee aims for her work to be informed and inspired by both.

She is especially interested in rural journalism and social justice stories, which came from her time with NPR-affiliate KBIA at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.

She speaks English and Russian fluently, some French, and very little Spanish (for now!)
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