Madison, Wisconsin and Princeton, N.J. (2011-03-30) Williamson County continues to have the healthiest residents in Tennessee, while Benton County is the least healthy county in the state, according to the annual County Health Rankings, released today by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. ScottCounty ranked 59th out of the state’s 95 counties. In comparison, Campbell and Fentress Counties ranked 92nd and 93rd in the annual report.
County Health Rankings is the most comprehensive report of its kind to rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states by using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live. The Rankings are intended to help everyone see how where people live, learn, work and play influence how healthy they are and how long they live.
According to the statistics, ScottCounty ranked 59th overall in health outcomes, a ranking better than all counties contiguous to Scott except Anderson. In subcategories, Scott scored similar to most of its neighbors, but distanced itself from most in the mortality and morbidity categories. In ScottCounty, the mortality rate or premature death rate was 10,858, or 67th overall. The state average was 9,264. The morbidity rate, which includes comparisons of overall health, number of poor physical and mental health day per month and birth weight, was 42nd overall. Overall, 25% of respondents indicated poor or fair health. Respondents reported an average of 4.1 days of poor physical health, while poor mental health days averaged 4.6. Eight percent of newborns were reported under weight in 2010. Premature death is represented by the years of potential life lost before age 75. Poor health days and poor mental health days is based on the number of unhealthy days reported by respondents in the 30-days prior to the survey.
ScottCounty ranked 89th overall in health factors, including health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. Thirty one percent of ScottCounty citizens were labeled obese. Fifteen percent of the adult population did not have access to health insurance. The teen birth rate was 80 out of 1,000 females, ages 15 to 19—the highest of any county in the region. Thirty four percent of children live in poverty, and 30% of kids live in single parent households.
According to this year’s Rankings, the 10 healthiest counties in Tennessee, starting with most healthy, are Williamson, Sumner, Rutherford, Moore, Blount, Wilson, Putnam, Knox, Robertson, Montgomery. The 10 counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Benton, Grundy, Fentress, Campbell, Lewis, Hardeman, Carroll, Cocke, Rhea, Decatur. The healthiest of Tennessee’s 95 counties are clustered in the north of the state, near Nashville; the least healthy counties are primarily in the west and northeast of Tennessee.
“The Rankings help counties see what is affecting the health of their residents are so they can see where they are doing well, where they need to improve, and what steps they need to take as a community to remove barriers to good health,” says Patrick Remington, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Dean for Public Health, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health or “health outcomes” for Tennessee by county: the rate of people dying before age 75, the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health, the numbers of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health, and the rate of low-birthweight infants.
The Rankings also looks at factors that affect people’s health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. Among the many health factors they looked at: rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, excessive drinking among adults, and teenage births; the number of uninsured adults, availability of primary care providers, and preventable hospital stays; rates of high school graduation, adults who have attended college, children in poverty; and community safety; access to healthy foods and air pollution levels.
“The County Health Rankings help everyone see that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor’s office and where we live matters to our health,” says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The good news is that there are things counties can do right away to help their residents lead healthier lives.”
To help counties translate the Rankings into action, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey said the Foundation was launching a new program to help communities improve the health of their residents. Under this new program—part of an initiative called Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health—RWJF will provide grants to up to 14 communities around the country to strengthen broad-based community efforts to improve health.
For more information, please visit www.countyhealthrankings.org.