Kansans are aging, moving to urban centers and becoming less white.

Those broad findings from a detailed report about the state’s next five decades by the Kansas Health Foundation and Kansas Health Institute shouldn’t surprise us. They should, however, act as a reminder that as the state continues to grow and these trends continue, there is much work to be done to ensure the greatest chance at economic and social success for all Kansans. …

While Kansas is projected to grow by 25.1 percent overall by 2066, the growth rate of residents age 65 and older is projected to rise by almost 70 percent. That creates a continuing shift in focus for health-care providers, who will see more cases of later-in-life health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. …

Meanwhile, the report projects a 32 percent decline in eastern Kansas’ rural counties over that time and a 20 percent decline in western Kansas’ rural counties. From 2000 to 2016, 82 of 105 counties lost population, a continuing challenge to small communities needing to keep up with the best educators, health-care professionals and other leaders.

The most striking component of the study is the continuing growth in diversity within Kansas’ borders. Non-Hispanic whites continue to make up just more than three-quarters of the population, but that percentage was 84.1 in 2000. Whites in Kansas decreased by 0.3 percent in that period.

All population growth in Kansas from 2000 to 2016 was among minorities — 52.5 percent. That’s more than the national average (44.8). …

The study notes that healthy living is contingent on many behaviors, some of which are universal — healthy eating, physical activity, and a decision not to use tobacco. But other risk factors — poverty, education — weigh heavily. In today’s Kansas, minority populations experience these significant hurdles at higher rates than whites.

We as Kansans need to get ahead of these problems….

School districts bear the biggest challenges. A better education, whether it be completion of high school or beyond, offers more of an opportunity for success in the workforce and less chance of poverty. …

The Kansas Health Foundation has provided a view of the 50-year finish line. It’s up to Kansans to decide how we want to get there.

— The Wichita Eagle