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2015 County Health Rankings Released!

2015 County Health Rankings Released!

An easy-to-use snapshot comparing the health of nearly every county in the nation, the 2015 County Health Rankings show that where you live matters to your health. The annual report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, makes it clear that good health includes many factors beyond medical care, such as education, jobs, smoking, access to healthy foods and parks, and more.

This year's Rankings show that the healthiest counties within states have higher college attendance, fewer preventable hospital stays, fewer sexually transmitted infections, and better access to parks and gyms. The least healthy counties in each state have more smokers, more teen births, lower high school graduation rates, and more children living in single-parent households.

The 2015 County Health Rankings Key Findings Report highlights key social and economic factors that drive health. This year's data shows:

  • Premature death rates are dropping. In fact, 60 percent of the nation's counties are seeing drops in years of life lost when people die early (before age 75). But for many counties, these rates are not improving—40 percent of counties are not making progress in reducing premature deaths.
  • Almost one out of four children in the U.S. lives in poverty. Child poverty rates are more than twice as high in the unhealthiest counties in each state than in the healthiest counties.
  • Violent crime rates are highest in the South. Violent crime rates, which affect health, well-being, and stress levels, are highest in the Southwest, Southeast, and Mississippi Delta regions.
  • Having a job influences health. Unemployment rates are 1.5 times higher in the least healthy counties in each state as they are in the healthiest counties. During the recession, counties in the West, Southeast, and rust belt region of the U.S. were hit hardest by growingunemployment. Many, but not all, of these counties have seen their unemployment rates drop since the recession ended in 2010.

Local health departments can use the Rankings to support their work and invite new partners to the table—leaders in education, business, and community development —to take action and put healthy choices within everyone's reach.

For examples of how local health departments are taking action, go to the Community Stories section at www.countyhealthrankings.org. The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program also offers data, tools, and resources in the Roadmaps to Health Action Center so that local health officials can accelerate their health improvement efforts. 

To find out more, please contact Jbond@burness.com.