Here in Dane County, we’re blessed to have some of the best health care providers and facilities anywhere: world-class hospitals, great health care providers, and municipal government leadership that cares about having healthy citizens. According to a new report released at midnight last night, Dane County ranks 10th in the state for most healthy residents; Columbia County is 25th; Iowa County ranks 17th, Green County is number 30 on the list, but Rock County is near the bottom of the state’s 72 counties at 62nd.
According to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which did the report, Ozaukee County has the healthiest residents in the state, and Menominee County is the least healthy. The County Health Rankings are the first to rank the overall health of the counties in all 50 states using a standard formula.
The top five most healthy counties in the state are Ozaukee, St. Croix, Washington, Waukesha, and Portage. If you’re not familiar with Wisconsin geography, they’re largely suburban counties near the city of Milwaukee, and on the border with the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.
The bottom five counties are Menominee, Milwaukee, Marquette, Jackson, and Adams, primarily in the rural areas of central and northern Wisconsin, with the exception of Milwaukee County. The rankings do not include a slot for the City of Milwaukee.
You can take a gander at the rankings yourself by going to the website countyhealthrankings.org to see a complete list. There’s a snapshot of the health factors in every county of the state.
Dr. Patrick Remington, associate dean for public health at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, says “this report shows us that there are big differences in overall health across counties, due to many factors, ranging from individual behavior to quality of health care, to education and jobs, to access to healthy foods, and to quality of the air”.
The executive director of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, Tim Size, says “rural patients face the most daunting of health care challenges: they are older, poorer, and sicker. Rural America is less healthy due to so much smoking, drinking, and eating, and too little exercise, education, jobs, and income”. Strong words.
All the experts seem to agree that factors outside the exam room contribute to good health. A lot of it is up to us, and the lifestyle we choose. But in many ways, where we live does make a difference in how healthy we are.