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Are You As Healthy As Your County Ranking?

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CBS Detroit (con't)

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DETROIT (WWJ) – So you think you’re healthy and then you see you live in a county that puts you just above having a pulse. Where do you fall in the rankings? Well, if you live in Ottawa County, you are considered to be among the healthiest in Michigan.

In Michigan, Clare County remains ranked among the poorest in health, according to the annual County Health Rankings, released Wednesday by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

According to the rankings, residents of Clare County are more than two times more likely to die a premature death than those in Ottawa County.

This is the second year of the County Health Rankings, the most comprehensive report of its kind to rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states by using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live.

The Rankings helps everyone see how where people live, learn, work and play influence how healthy they are and how long they live. 

According to this year’s Rankings, the 10 healthiest counties in Michigan, starting with most healthy, are Ottawa, Leelanau, Livingston, Washtenaw, Alger, Clinton, Grand Traverse, Houghton, Emmet, Marquette.

The 10 counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Clare, Wayne, Lake, Ontonagon, Alcona, Genesee, Gladwin, Roscommon, Saginaw, Calhoun. The healthiest of Michigan’s 82 ranked counties are in the north and south of the state; the least healthy counties are primarily clustered in central Michigan. 

Some highlights of what the Rankings show:

•         The rate of premature death in Clare County is more than twice that in Ottawa County.

•         20% of adults in Clare County report being in poor or fair health, compared to 9% in Ottawa.

•         30% of adults in Clare County smoke, compared to 17% in Ottawa.

•         The teen birth rate in Clare County is more than twice that in Ottawa.

•         32% of children in Clare County live in poverty, compared to 9% in Ottawa.

“The Rankings help counties see what is affecting the health of their residents are so they can see where they are doing well, where they need to improve, and what steps they need to take as a community to remove barriers to good health,” says Patrick Remington, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Dean for Public Health, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

“We know that improving the health of our residents will play a key role in our efforts to reinvent Michigan,” said Olga Dazzo, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. “The County Health Rankings will be an invaluable tool for communities to assess their health, determine where they can improve and how they will do so. The rankings also will help counties track their progress as we work together to create healthier communities and a healthier Michigan.”

You can find more information at http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/, includes a snapshot of each county in Michigan with a color-coded map comparing each county’s overall health ranking. 

Researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health or “health outcomes” for Michigan by county: the rate of people dying before age 75, the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health, the numbers of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health, and the rate of low-birthweight infants. 

The Rankings also looks at factors that affect people’s health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.

Among the many health factors they looked at: rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, excessive drinking among adults, and teenage births; the number of uninsured adults, availability of primary care providers, and preventable hospital stays; rates of high school graduation, adults who have attended college, children in poverty; and community safety; access to healthy foods and air pollution levels.

“The County Health Rankings help everyone see that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor’s office and where we live matters to our health,” says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The good news is that there are things counties can do right away to help their residents lead healthier lives. We hope this second annual release of County Health Rankings data will spur all sectors – government, business, community and faith-based groups, education and public health – to work together to find solutions and take action and implement programs and policy changes to improve health.”    

To help counties translate the Rankings into action, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey today said the Foundation was launching a new program to help communities improve the health of their residents.

Under this new program-part of an initiative called Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health-RWJF will provide grants to up to 14 communities around the country to strengthen broad-based community efforts to improve health.

Madison, Wis., and Princeton, N.J. – Ottawa County has the healthiest residents in Michigan.

Click on www.rwjf.org. for more information about healthier lifestyles.

Visit  http://uwphi.pophealth.wisc.edu  for more information about the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

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