On Wednesday the annual County Health Rankings were released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. These rankings break down each state into its counties and then rank them on various factors that influence health. The 25 factors evaluated include smoking rates, obesity levels, access to doctors and dentists, and physical activity levels.
States found at the bottom of the annual America’s Health Rankings by the United Health Foundation unsurprisingly also have some of the least healthy counties. According to the County Health Rankings, counties in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, West Virginia and South Carolina have smoking rates of about 25 percent and obesity rates at 30-40 percent.
On the healthier side of things are the states that made up the top five in last year’s Health Rankings. Vermont, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Minnesota boasted fewer average days of poor physical health than the least healthy states. Counties in the healthier states also show higher rates of diet and exercise.
An article from U.S. News states after four years of collecting data and producing rankings, the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps for 2013 show significant new national trends. Rates of premature death are at the lowest they have been in 20 years, though people in the least healthy counties are twice as likely to die early as those in the healthiest counties. Those living in the healthiest counties are also 1.4 times more likely to have access to doctors and dentists than those in the least healthy counties.
With those wide gaps in relative county health, it is the continued goal of County Health Rankings to promote the discovery of viable health solutions in communities.
Image from www.countyhealthrankings.org