Mid-Michigan counties high, low in healthiest counties in state - WNEM TV 5

Mid-Michigan counties high, low in healthiest counties in state

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A new study released reveals that Michigan counties are actively working on improving health factors and outcomes, but still need work.

The fourth annual County Health Rankings was conducted by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

For the second year in a row, Leelanau County was ranked as the No. 1 healthiest county in Michigan. Wayne County fell to the unhealthiest county after remaining low for the last four years.

As for Mid-Michigan counties, Midland County checked in at No. 12 on the list, Bay County is 53, Saginaw County, 74 and Genesee County is listed at 80, two spots away from dead last.

The survey authors say there continues to be a steady increase in the rates of adult obesity and physical inactivity in Michigan. Further, more babies are continually being born at a low birth weight. They say the good news is that these rankings allow Michigan counties to see where they can improve, and based on the change in rankings for many communities, Michigan counties have already begun working on health improvements.

"Michigan counties are already aware of the health issues that their communities face," said James K. Haveman, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). "These annual rankings allow Michigan's local health departments to focus on the factors in their counties that need addressing because each community is different. I'm glad to see the rankings change each year with the various initiatives and the Department of Community Health will continue to support counties as they work to improve their residents' health."

The County Health Rankings rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states, using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live. The annual rankings include a snapshot of each county in Michigan with a color-coded map comparing each county's overall health ranking. Nearly every county is ranked on health outcomes, how healthy we are, and on health factors, how healthy we can be. Communities and individuals are encouraged to visit the County Health Rankings website for information on their local health rankings.

"We all have a stake in creating a healthier community and no single sector alone can tackle the health challenges in any given community," said Patrick Remington, MD, MPH, professor and associate dean at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. "Collaboration is critical. The rankings are sparking action all over the country as people from all sectors join forces to create new possibilities in health county by county."

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

To see Michigan's 2013 Rankings, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org/michigan.

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