New report ranks health of Mo., Ill. counties

Dutchess, Ulster among healthy places to live

At the bottom of the list of 159 Georgia counties are several mostly in the southwest corner of the state.

The findings are then released in joint report produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The Rankings also make it clear that good health is influenced by many factors beyond medical care such as education, jobs, affordable housing, access to healthy foods and opportunities for exercise.

Among some of the more common measures of health status, 16 percent of adults in Erie and 18 percent in Niagara reported smoking cigarettes most days or every day, compared to 12 percent in Nassau and Westchester counties. Almost 30 percent of adults are smokers, and 14 percent of the population is uninsured. That latter percent is way above the 24 percent mark statewide.

Child poverty and youth disconnection are often linked and early childhood investment, such as preschool and kindergarten programming and childcare subsidies can help establish stability, the report said.

Madison County appears to have one of the best rates of alcohol-impaired driving deaths with 10 percent of driving deaths involving alcohol.

"T$3 hese are communities that have experienced disinvestment, and high rates of unemployment and poverty, and these are issues that shape your health and well-being". It's a rate of 6,800 for Okaloosa, which is ranked 11.

"Possibly not unrelated to that is a high rate of sexually transmitted infections", he said, adding, "We know that in many cases those two - drinking and STIs - go hand in hand".

Wealthier suburban counties such as Montgomery and Howard were ranked as the healthiest in the state.


Of the general population, 92 percent of county residents have graduated from high school and 63 percent attended at least some college classes. Quitman County, meanwhile, has a very high rate of premature deaths, 21 percent uninsured and nearly half of its children living in poverty.

"Promoting active and healthy lifestyles is at the heart of our public health programs and quality of life initiatives", Patterson said.

Nationally, the report shows drug overdose deaths are fueling a dramatic increase in premature deaths because of an increase in deaths among 15- to 44-year-olds. Death trends from 1997 to 2014 showed 39 counties saw improvements while five worsened and the rest saw no change.

The rankings also show whether a county is higher or lower than last year's rankings and how it compares to U.S top performers.

"Overdose deaths are entirely preventable and so we don't have to have these premature deaths take place", said Davie.

Drug deaths are also accelerating among 15- to 24-year-olds, but almost three times as many people in this age group die by homicide, suicide or in motor vehicle crashes.

Education is one of the categories in this ranking. In other counties, 95 percent of its population did this.

In McDowell County, 43 percent of youth are "disconnected".

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