How Healthy Is Your County? On Wednesday, February 17, 2010, The County Health Rankings report was released by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This report is the first set of reports to rank the overall health of ever county in all 50 states.

Each county is ranked within the state on how healthy people are and how long they live. They also are ranked on key factors that affect health such as: smoking, obesity, binge drinking, access to primary care providers, rates of high school graduation, rates of violent crime, air pollution levels, liquor store density, unemployment rates and number of children living in poverty.

Other studies have ranked states on health factors, but this is the first time researchers have examined the multiple factors that affect health in each county in all 50 states.

Poorly ranked counties often had multiple challenges to overcome, including:

  • Two- and three-fold higher rates of premature death, often from preventable conditions.
  • High smoking rates that lead to cancer, heart disease, bronchitis and emphysema.
  • High rates of obesity which can put people at risk for diabetes, disability and heart disease.
  • High unemployment and poverty rates.
  • High numbers of liquor stores and fast-food outlets but few places to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

“For the first time, people have a tool to help identify what is making people in every county unhealthy,” says Patrick Remington, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for public health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “We hope this kind of check-up will mobilize community leaders to take action and invest in programs and policy changes that make their counties healthier places to live.”

The online Rankings, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org, include snapshots of U.S. counties with a color-coded map that compares each county’s overall health with other counties in each of the 50 states. Researchers used the latest data available for each county, ranging from 2000 to 2008, to develop the Rankings.

For more information, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, February 21st, 2010 at 7:15 pm and is filed under Resources. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.