Carroll remains third-healthiest county, though shadowed by drug overdoses

Posted March 30, 2017

Baker County improved from 50th healthiest county in the last rankings to the 39th healthiest county in the latest rankings.

This is the seventh year in a row that Philly has ranked at the bottom of the state's 67 total counties.

After the 2016 County Health Rankings, and their own Health Needs Assessment, Live Well Northwest Florida identified three health priorities for the two-county area.

Since 2016, Ottawa County improved or maintained in 71 percent of the 35 indicators that make up the ranking including longer life expectancy, low rates when it comes to smoking and teen births, high activity levels, and low unemployment rates. The county also has a high number of children in poverty, almost 20 percent. Monroe County came in 23rd.

Drug overdoses are one reason premature deaths are on the rise across the nation after dropping for years. Twenty-one percent of Douglas County residents reported "severe housing problems", well above the statewide figure of 14 percent.

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"The environment in which we live, the physical environment and the social environment - they heavily affect how healthy a community is", Pezzino said.

Counties can't expect major changes in their health rankings over short periods of time, Pezzino said.

This year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation took a closer look at premature deaths (deaths occurring among people under age 75) in assigning county health rankings.

One factor that might contribute to the decline in Duval County's rating is a drop in the ratio of primary care doctors in the county, said Attica Scott, a community coach with County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.

"This affirms what we know in public health to be true, that the currency of inequality is years of life", said Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore's health commissioner.

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This year's County Health Rankings also introduced a new measure focused on young people, those 16 to 24 who are not in school or working.

Pike County has been deemed the unhealthiest county in OH in an annual data-driven study conducted by the national Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with several other southern OH counties, including Ross, also near the bottom of the list. But county health officials said the real story is the county's improvement since 2011, when it was 12th. "When you look at the things that drive the health of our population or any population, roughly 20 percent of it is specific to clinical care, to healthcare; the other 80 percent has to do with economic, social, environmental and behavioral issues".

From 2014 to 2015, 85 percent of the increase in premature deaths could be attributed to an increase in deaths among these younger populations, the report found. Nicholas County has a rate of 26 percent; Wyoming County, 25 percent; and Mercer, Fayette and Raleigh, 23 percent. Tolland county also has a signifantly low obesity rate due to the high number of accessability for excersise opportunities.

Rates are higher in rural counties and highest among American Indian/Alaskan Native, black and Hispanic youth.

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