Health Concerns
Chisago County, MN

Community Health Assessment Findings

The Chisago County Community Health Assessment (CHA) was developed and supported by the Mobilizing Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) Committee, which met from August 2017 through December 2018.  Over 15 community leaders from private, public and nonprofit sectors shared their expertise and resources during these meetings.  The MAPP process aims to engage the community in a strategic planning process to improve the health of all Chisago County residents, and to ensure that the priorities and strategies are shared and supported by the partners in the county. The Community Health Assessment represents 10 of the top health concerns for Chisago County, seven of those priorities are below while other are directly associated with social determinants of health and can be found on separate pages. 

Unhealthy Weight

Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health (World Health Organization, 2018). Having an unhealthy amount of weight can often be associated with many other significant diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases, osteoarthritis and certain cancers. 

The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Supportive environments and communities are fundamental in shaping people’s choices by having access to healthier food options, and opportunities for physical activity (World Health Organization, 2018). 

Chisago Lakes Community Center—Lindstrom

Mental Health 

Mental illness is prevalent across the globe and affects multiple aspects of life. Despite advances in treatment, there is little evidence that prevalence rates of mental illness are falling. While the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancers are common in the policy dialogue and in service delivery, the prevention of mental illness remains a neglected area. 

There is accumulating evidence that mental illness is at least partially preventable, with increasing recognition that its antecedents are often found in infancy, childhood, adolescence and youth, creating multiple opportunities into young adulthood for prevention (Furber, Segal & Leach et. al., 2015).

Canvas Health—Locations in North Branch and Forest Lake

Chronic Disease 

Based on the 2017 Chisago County Community Health Assessment data there are multiple characteristics of the male population with diabetes in Chisago County. We can generally say, that three-fourths of men with diabetes have a HS graduate degree or less, and are between the ages of 35-44 or 55-74. They are working class (55.8%) or retired (46.3%), and make an average household income of $50,000- $99,000. They are generally overweight (27.3%) or obese (66.9%), and over half of the men eat less than 3 servings a day of fruits and vegetables daily.

It takes a team care approach to effectively help people cope with the vast array of complications that can arise from diabetes. Physicians, Diabetes Educators, family, friends, and the patient themselves all play a significant role in patient satisfaction with care, better quality of life, improved health outcomes, and ultimately, lower health care costs (Health Equity Data Analysis Report (HEDA), 2018).

"There's a lot of information on Diabetes out there, but you don't know what to believe."

—HEDA focus group participant

Evidence-based programs are proven to make a positive difference in quality of life measures such as feeling more in control, less stressed, and able to do more of what makes people feel well. Classes offered in the East Central Region are:  Falls Prevention,  Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL), Diabetes Prevention & Self-Management, and Chronic Pain & Disease Management.


Stepping On Class—Chisago County Senior Center

Substance Abuse 

Alcohol use can lead to both short- and long-term health and safety issues. Short-term harms include injuries such as motor vehicle injuries or drowning; violence including homicide, suicide, intimate partner violence; alcohol poisoning; and poor birth outcomes. 

Over time, alcohol use can lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease, liver disease, digestive problems, and several types of cancer. Excessive alcohol use can also lead to learning and memory problems, mental health problems, social problems such as lost productivity or family problems, and alcohol dependence (Minnesota Department of Health).

Public health approaches recognize the multi-faceted nature of substance misuse and focus on addressing the myriad of individual, environmental, and social factors that contribute to substance use disorders (Rural Health Information Hub).

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation—Center City

Oral Health 

Soft Dental—Rush City

People with dental benefits are more likely to visit a dentist, take their children to the dentist, and have better overall health, according to the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP, 2017) report, but many people do not have any dental coverage. People who delay dental care can face serious long-term dental problems. More than two million visits are made to hospital emergency rooms each year for dental pain, where treatment is nearly ten times more expensive than the cost of preventive care. Poor oral health can also have long-term effects that are associated with serious illnesses like cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, pneumonia, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and birth complications.

Tobacco Use 

E-cigarettes are the most commonly used commercial tobacco product among youth, so it is critical that public health officials and the general public understand the potential risks of using them. Nearly all e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm the developing adolescent brain. Because the brain is still developing until about age 25, youth and young adult exposure to nicotine can lead to addiction and disrupt attention and learning. No amount of nicotine is safe for youth (Minnesota Department of Health).

Tobacco use kills over 6,300 Minnesotans every year and costs Minnesota $3.2 billion annually in medical costs.

Similar to smoke and secondhand smoke from cigarettes and other tobacco products, aerosol from e-cigarettes (often called vapor) contains harmful and potentially harmful constituents, such as ultrafine particles, heavy metals like nickel, tin, and lead, and other cancer-causing chemicals. Exposure to e-cigarette aerosol may be a trigger for both kids and adults with breathing problems, such as asthma, increasing their risk of severe asthma attacks (Minnesota Department of Health).

Public Health, parents, and the community need to start the conversation about the impacts e-cigarettes and vaping can have on our youth.

Sacred Grounds Tobacco & E-Cig—Stacy

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) 

Number of ACEs for Youth by Grade Level:

Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years) such as experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect; witnessing violence in the home; and having a family member attempt or die by suicide. Also included are aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding such as growing up in a household with substance misuse, mental health problems, or instability due to parental separation or incarceration of a parent, sibling, or other member of the household (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention, 2019). 

Chisago County is taking steps to raise awareness and find ways to build a trauma informed and resilient community. Chisago County ACEs Initiative is a collaborative group  of cross-sector partners formed who are passionate about making a difference in their community. ACEs Initiative vision is "East Central Minnesota is committed to preventing and reducing the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being." 

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are one of Chisago County Public Health's top priorities. 

Chisago County Public Health Office—North Branch

Published: 11/15/19

Edited: 1/15/20