"Shelby County is Alabama's healthiest county; Lowndes, the least,
Shelby County is the healthiest county in Alabama - Lowndes County is the least healthy, according to a national ranking released today.
The rankings by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute were based on an analysis of 25 health factors or outcomes, including: access to health care; air and water quality; high school graduation rates; obesity; smoking; teen births; and unemployment.
Rounding out the top 5 of 67 counties in Alabama: Baldwin (2), Lee (3), Madison (4) and Limestone (5).
Sharing the bottom 5 positions with Lowndes are (from worst): Walker (66), Hale (65), Perry (64) and Wilcox (63).
Major population areas and their ranks include: Montgomery (21), Tuscaloosa (25), Jefferson (27) and Mobile (39).
To achieve its No. 1 rating, Shelby ranked at the top in several categories, including mortality, morbidity, health behaviors, clinical care, and social and economic factors.
For example in the clinical care category, 12 percent of the population in Shelby is uninsured compared to 17 percent for the state. And in the social and economic factors category, Shelby has 12 percent of its children living in poverty compared to 28 percent for the state.
Lowndes County by contrast ranked near the bottom in most categories, including 67 in mortality, 67 in health behaviors and 64 in social and economic factors. Lowndes, for example, had 40 percent of its children living in poverty compared to the state at 28 percent.
With it's 27 rank, Jefferson County was firmly in the middle of the pack but ranked 3 in clinical care, with its abundance of hospitals and doctors. On the flip side, Jefferson ranked 45th in the physical environment category which looks at access to healthy foods, water quality and access to recreational areas.
"The county health rankings can be put to use right away by leaders in government, business, health care and every citizen motivated to work together to create a culture of health in their community," Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a County Health Rankings news release. "The rankings are driving innovation, unleashing creativity and inspiring big changes to improve health in communities large and small throughout the country."
Nationally, the survey found that rates of premature deaths are at the lowest level in 20 years.
"Nevertheless, people in the unhealthiest counties are dying too early at more than twice the rates of those in the healthiest counties," the news release stated.
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