INDIANAPOLIS—For the second consecutive year, Hamilton, Hendricks and Boone counties top the list in ranking the highest in health outcomes, according to the fifth annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The Rankings rate overall health for all 92 Indiana counties by using a standard formula to measure how healthy people are and how long they live.
“Health habits start first in the home and are supported through neighborhoods, community coalitions, business, education and government—so, it’s not surprising to see that those counties with the infrastructure to support residents’ health have the most positive health outcomes,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “These rankings demonstrate that where you live matters. We can all do our part to make our communities healthier places to live, work and play.”
The Rankings measure the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states, providing county-to-county comparisons within each state. The Rankings allow counties to see how well they are doing on 29 factors that influence health, including smoking, high school graduation rates, employment, physical inactivity, and access to healthy foods.
Two of the biggest drivers for poor health outcomes are obesity and tobacco use. The best protective factors include ensuring children are raised in a safe, healthy environment and graduate from high school.
Nationally, this year’s Rankings show that people living in the least healthy counties are twice as likely to have shorter lives as people living in the healthiest counties. Unhealthy counties also have twice as many children living in poverty and twice as many teen births as the healthiest counties. This year’s Rankings also feature several new measures including housing, transportation and access to mental health providers.
“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s vision for a culture of health is one where everyone has the opportunity to be healthy,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “The County Health Rankings are a starting point for change, helping communities come together, identify priorities, and create solutions that will help all in our diverse society live healthier lives, now and for generations to come.”
According to this year’s Rankings, the 10 healthiest Indiana counties based on health outcomes are: Hamilton, Hendricks, Boone, LaGrange, Brown, Dubois, Wells, Monroe, Whitley and Tippecanoe. The 10 counties with the lowest ranking for health outcomes are: Delaware, Lawrence, Sullivan, Orange, Jasper, Starke, Crawford, Blackford, Fayette and Scott.
“Everyone has a role in advancing overall health outcomes,” said Dr. VanNess. “I encourage community, business, faith and government leaders in each county to use the 2014 County Healthy Rankings as a tool to learn which factors are negatively impacting your community’s health and then look for resources and partnerships to address those needs.”
For more about information or to view the report, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org.
The Indiana State Department of Health, Indiana Hospital Association, and the Indiana Business Research Center in partnership, have launched the Indiana INdicators website (www.IndianaIndicators.org). This free data resource is available to help Indiana communities perform community health needs assessments, guide the development of community health improvement plans and much more. IndianaINdicators.org provides the most current Indiana health-related data and information at the state and local levels in an easy to search and sort format and can be used as a supplement to the annual County Health Rankings information.
Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov, for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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).
About the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute
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 policy and 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;
· Make useful contributions to public health and health policy decisions that improve the health of the public. For more information, visit http://uwphi.pophealth.wisc.edu/.