Health Snapshots: County by county

New county health rankings give first county-by-county snapshot of health in each state.

Mar 11th, 2010

The County Health Rankings — the first set of reports to rank the overall health of every county in all 50 states — were recently released by the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The 50 state reports help public health and community leaders, policy-makers, consumers, and others to see how healthy their county is, compare it with others within their state, and find ways to improve the health of their community.

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.

The Rankings can be used to mobilize communities to improve health disparities.

Find out how your county ranks by clicking here.

Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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