Counties' healthiness ranked by UW institute

March 20, 2013

Ozaukee County residents are among the healthiest in Wisconsin, according to the 2013 County Health Rankings released today by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Photo: Patrick Remington

Remington

County Health Rankings examine the health and well-being of people living in nearly every county in every state across the nation and show that how long and well people live depends on multiple factors beyond just their access to medical care. This is the tenth release of the rankings in Wisconsin by UWPHI.

Wisconsin’s five healthiest counties are Ozaukee, Kewaunee, St. Croix, Pierce, and Door. The five counties in the poorest health are Menominee, Milwaukee, Marquette, Adams, and Forest. The least healthy counties are primarily located in rural areas of central and northern Wisconsin with the exception of Milwaukee County, the state’s most urban county, in the southeast.

“The rankings tell us that we all have a stake in creating a healthier community and no single sector alone can tackle the health challenges in any given community,” says Patrick Remington, professor and associate dean at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “Collaboration is critical. The rankings are sparking action throughout Wisconsin as people from all sectors join forces to create new possibilities in health — county by county.”

The rankings include a snapshot of each county in Wisconsin. UWPHI researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health for each county: premature death, the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health, the number of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health, and the rate of low birthweight infants.

“The County Health Rankings can be put to use right away by leaders in government, businesses, health care, and every citizen, motivated to work together to create a culture of health in their community.”

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

The rankings also examine 25 factors that influence health, including rates of childhood poverty, rates of smoking, obesity levels, teen birth rates, access to physicians and dentists, rates of high school graduation and college attendance, access to healthy foods, levels of physical inactivity, and percentages of children living in single parent households. This year’s rankings include two new measures: access to dentists and drinking water safety.

The rankings are one facet of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program. The Roadmaps project supports communities working to improve health. RWJF recently awarded six communities the RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize for their trailblazing strategies to create a culture of health. The call for applications for the 2014 RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize is being released today.

For more information about the rankings, the prize, and the Roadmaps to Health Action Center that offers access to free personalized assistance to places that need guidance on what steps to take to make their communities healthier places to live, learn, work and play, visit the County Health Rankings website.