Several Local Counties Among Least Healthiest 3-30-2011 - WNEM TV 5

Several Local Counties Among Least Healthiest 3-30-2011

Several mid-Michigan and central Michigan counties rank near the the bottom of a new health report that assesses wellness in nearly all the nation's 3,000-plus counties.
According to the annual County Health Rankings report, released Wednesday by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Saginaw and Genesee counties rank near the bottom in the state.
Meanwhile, Clare County remains the least healthy county in Michigan.
The rankings compare counties within each state. They're based on data from vital statistics and government health surveys.
In many cases, several years of data were used to calculate rankings, said Dr. Patrick Remington, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute. For that reason, many rankings this year are similar to those from its 2010 report.
Prompted by last year's report:
Authorities in central Michigan, where the lowest-ranked counties are located, created a "We Can" initiative to improve health measures, including obesity, inactivity and poor nutrition.
Monthly brainstorming sessions have been held involving officials from local health departments, mental health agencies, colleges and elsewhere, and a working plan is expected to be developed in April, said Mary Kushion, health officer for the Central Michigan District Health Department.
"We really do have a common theme and a common mission" Kushion said. "We know that we are much better prepared and able to address the issues than we were" last year.
The 10 counties in poorest health include:
  • Clare
  • Wayne
  • Lake
  • Ontonagon
  • Alcona
  • Genesee
  • Gladwin
  • Roscommon
  • Saginaw
  • Calhoun

Premature deaths -- people dying before age 75 of preventable diseases -- self-reported health status, and the percent of low birth-weight babies contributed to the rankings. Other measures included obesity rates, unemployment, high school graduation rates and pollution.
Western Michigan's Ottawa County ranked first out of 82 counties in Michigan. Keweenaw County was not ranked.
The 10 healthiest counties include:
  • Ottawa
  • Leelanau
  • Livingston
  • Washtenaw
  • Alger
  • Clinton
  • Grand Traverse
  • Houghton
  • Emmet
  • Marquette

The report being released Wednesday can be found at:
Check out this interactive map to see a visual representation of the report.
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