Book on Appalachian health gets good review from doctor

A new book discusses the health disparities that affect rural and urban Appalachians and has won the praise of a Kentucky physician, who calls its impact “profound.”

Appalachian Health and Well-Being was reviewed by Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, a retired physician from Somerset, for The Courier-Journal.

Each chapter stands alone so readers can choose topics according to their interests. One chapter focuses on obesity and discusses issues like “food deserts” and lifestyle choices. The authors “suggest policy changes for childhood obesity of health school lunches, elimination of junk food and drinks from school vending machines, and an increase in physical activity,” Kavanagh writes.

The book also sets the facts straight on myths such as the high incidence of consanguinity and the use of home remedies and faith-based healing in rural Appalachian communities. The authors find Appalachian communities are no different than other rural regions in these regards.

The book, edited by University of Cincinnati scholars Robert L. Ludke and Phillip J. Obermiller, also discusses the methamphetamine epidemic. It notes that in Eastern Kentucky 377 meth labs were found in 2005, while in 2011, nearly 200 labs were found just in Laurel County alone. “For those who wish to understand the health and well-being in Eastern Kentucky, this is an insightful book which will give us all an appreciation of the herculean task that has been placed upon the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services,” Kavanagh concludes. (Read more)

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