The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the national County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report, which gives county-by-county health statistics based on factors such as premature death, lack of physical activity and the number of fast food restaurants in the county.
Eastern Kentucky counties have the worst health according to the report, and are followed by certain western counties. The report gives communities a chance to learn from the state’s best examples, said Jodi Mitchell, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health.
“These rankings are not necessarily to look at state by state rankings. But these are county rankings and so it really is a mechanism for the community to say we can do better in these areas,” she said.
The report may help counties see what their neighbors are doing better, but improvement also relies on individuals, she said.
“The hardest part is to get individuals engaged…to realize that your health matters on an individual basis and that you can take steps to improve the health of your well-being and that can improve the community’s health,” said Mitchell.
Jefferson County ranks 33rd out of 120, but it’s surrounded by some of the state’s most healthy counties (Oldham ranks number 1). Jefferson ranks low in environmental, social and economic factors, but it ranks second best in the number of residents with access to clinical care.
Without communities working together it’ll be difficult to improve the health of a region, said Mitchell.