These initiatives lift the efforts of individuals and neighborhoods as they develop essential community-based infrastructures for improved health and wellness outcomes.
The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI), compares counties within each state on more than 30 health-influencing factors such as education, jobs, and access to quality health care.
While medical care matters, the report says, housing, education and jobs also affect health. A new report ranks Maine's counties when it comes to health, and childhood poverty levels are a key indicator.
In New York, the number one ranked county is Rockland and the last ranked is Bronx County at 62.
"Where we live makes a difference in how well and how long we live".
Help with tobacco cessation and diabetes prevention and control are among the priorities because those issues contribute to the overall health of individuals and the community, Thompson added. "But unfortunately, some communities have experienced generations of isolation from opportunity".
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"What we're ultimately talking about is the access to opportunity in these counties, which can be governed by economic opportunity that leads to health outcomes". Counties toward the top of the chart have the highest incomes while counties to the left of the chart have the best health outcomes.
According to the report, since 2004, Bell County's obesity rates have been higher than the state and national averages, and sexually transmitted infection rates are significantly higher for both Bell and McLennan Counties.
Of course, there are always a few outliers.
Cambria County ranked 64th overall among Pennsylvania's 67 counties, trailed only by Fulton, Fayette and Philadelphia counties. It's unclear from the data why the county declined in rank, because numerous health outcome measures changed little. However, that correlation was looser.
Jackson County is a little behind at number 45. "This year's Rankings are a call to action to see how these persistent health gaps play out locally, take an honest look at their root causes, and work together to give everyone a fair shot at a healthier life". The rankings use the most recently available data from such sources as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Census Bureau.