Results of a needs-assessment questionnaire, distributed jointly by Sturgis Hospital and Three Rivers Health, have been released.
The fourth of five fields focuses on healthy behaviors.
According to the St. Joseph County 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment, 786 St. Joseph County residents under the age of 75 years suffered a premature death between 2008 and 2010.
St. Joseph County ranked 65th among 82 ranked Michigan counties in years of potential life lost, which is 12 percent greater than the state average. These deaths are more likely to be attributed to preventable causes and are more subject to prevention and intervention strategies.
Weight control, substance abuse and lack of physical activity were identified as serious concerns by more than 50 percent of survey respondents. In addition, a high rate of tobacco usage, which was 11 percent above the national average, was recognized as a driver of poor health outcomes.
Smoking contributes to the development of several chronic conditions, including cancers, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease and continues to be the leading cause of premature death.