By Katharine Sanders, Director of Grantmaking
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, recently released Health Rankings for all the counties in the U.S. If you live in San Juan, Kittitas, Whitman, or Chelan, you are among the top 10 ranked for both Health Outcomes and Health Factors in Washington state. Congratulations! The news is not so good for those who live in Ferry, Okanogan, Mason, Stevens, or Asotin counties. Your counties are among the 10 ranked the least healthy in Washington.
The rankings are based on a model of health that attributes most importance to Social and Economic Factors (40%), followed by Health Behaviors (30%), Clinical Care (20%), and Physical Environment (10%). The report does not rank the healthiest and least healthy counties in the nation, but when the authors compared the 50 healthiest counties (one from every state), with the 50 least healthy counties, they saw some big differences. At the top of the list is place – the healthiest counties tend to be urban/suburban (48%) and most of the worst ranking counties are rural (84%). The biggest differences are in the areas of Children in Poverty, Premature Death Rate, and Self-Reported Health. Smaller, but still important differences are also noted in the areas of Adult Smoking, Preventable Hospital Stays and Access to Healthy Foods.
As Greg Vigdor, President & CEO of the Washington Health Foundation noted recently
“…the key to this data is not about study, but action. Each of us has the power to make a difference. In your community, join a local health collaborative…“ and make it easy for people to make healthy choices. For yourself and your loved ones, join the Healthiest State Campaign and take care of the people most important to you. Using our free Health HoME toolkit will help you take charge of your own health.”