Jeffersontown, KY- Oldham County has the healthiest residents in Kentucky and Floyd County is the least healthy county in the state, according to the fourth annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). The Rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
The County Health Rankings rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states. Terry Brooks, executive director at Kentucky Youth Advocates, stated, “This report reminds us that health does not exist in a vacuum. The national and state data reveal that a number of non-health factors are cornerstones to the state of Kentuckians’ health. For instance, we know that there is a direct and disturbing link between child poverty and health. Until we tackle poverty, graduation rates and family supports, the state of health for Kentuckians will not improve.”
The Rankings allow counties to see how they compare to other counties within the state. The actual data is based on a range of factors that influence health including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, and family and social support. This year’s Rankings include new measures, such as how many dentists are in a community per resident.
“Communities should see these rankings as a challenge. That challenge is less about comparing this county with that county and more about how every community can take action to improve the health of its neighbors,” Brooks said. “Fortunately, people from all parts of the state are working to improve the health of their community. For example, a few communities in Eastern Kentucky including Raceland and South Shore recently passed ordinances that will help make their communities friendlier to active modes of transportation including bicycling and walking. Other communities are working on making their communities smoke-free to reduce secondhand smoke exposure and smoking rates.”
According to the 2013 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Kentucky, starting with most healthy, are Oldham, followed by Boone, Shelby, Lyon, and Spencer. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Floyd, Perry, Breathitt, Wolfe, and Lee.
“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.”
“As important as local action is, our state elected officials must also shoulder the responsibility for improving the health of all Kentuckians,” added Brooks. “We need schools to embrace their role in children’s physical and mental well-being. We need lawmakers to muster the courage to pass a statewide smoke-free law. And, until we improve the economic stability of Kentucky families through such provisions as a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit, we are not going to sufficiently improve health.”
The Rankings are one part of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program. Communities are taking information from the County Health Rankings and using the County Health Roadmaps to build connections with local and national partners to improve health. Today marks the release of the call for applications for the 2014 RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize, which honors outstanding community partnerships that are helping people live healthier lives. To learn more about this year’s winning communities or get information about becoming one, visit www.rwjf.org/goto/prize and www.countyhealthrankings.org.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter (@RWJF) and Facebook (facebook.com/RobertWoodJohnsonFoundation).
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute is the focal point within the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health for translating public health and health policy research into practice. The Institute strives to:
- Address a broad range of real-world problems of topical importance to government, business, providers and the public;
- Promote partnerships of inquiry between researchers and users of research, breaking down barriers between the academic community and public and private sector policy makers; and
- Make useful contributions to public health and health policy decisions that improve the health of the public.
Kentucky Youth Advocates is a non-partisan, non-profit children’s advocacy organization. KYA represents a voice for Kentucky’s most precious asset – its youth. We believe that Kentucky’s youth deserve the opportunities and resources necessary to ensure their productive development and health.