Ozaukee County ranks healthiest in Wisconsin, and Menominee County ranks least healthy in the state, according to the seventh 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 Rankings are an easy-to-use snapshot comparing the health of nearly every county in the nation. The local-level data allows each state to see how its counties compare on more than 30 factors that impact health, including such social determinants as education, jobs, housing, exercise, commuting times, and more. Over the past seven years the Rankings have become an important tool for local communities working to build a Culture of Health.
According to the 2016 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Wisconsin are Ozaukee, Calumet, St. Croix, Pierce, and Pepin. The five counties in the poorest health are Menominee, Milwaukee, Washburn, Forest, and Sawyer.
“The Rankings data are only as valuable as the action it inspires and the lives it improves,” said Bridget Catlin, PhD, MHSA, Senior Scientist & Director for UWPHI's Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) program as well as co-director of the County Health Rankings. “Whether it’s addressing health gaps between counties or the concentration of poverty in rural and residentially segregated communities of color - targeting resources to the people and places in greatest need is essential to building a Culture of Health. The Rankings are an important springboard for conversations on how to expand opportunity for all to be healthy.”
The County Health Rankings began as the Wisconsin County Health Rankings in 2003; 2010 was the first year counties across the nation were included.
Nationally, this year’s Rankings show dramatic differences between rural and urban counties on a number of measures, most notably premature deaths rates. Rural counties not only have higher rates of premature death, but also nearly 1 in 5 rural counties saw rises in premature death rates over the past decade while most large urban counties experienced consistent improvement.
Rural counties have higher rates of smoking, obesity, child poverty, and teen births, and higher numbers of uninsured adults than their urban counterparts. Large urban counties have lower smoking and obesity rates, fewer injury deaths, and more residents who attended some college.
The Rankings also reveal:
This year’s Rankings data also takes a closer look at health gaps in each state, comparing how the top performing counties stack up against the bottom performing counties on key measures. Enormous difference in health outcomes can exist within a state.
“The County Health Rankings show how important it is to examine all the conditions that impact well-being and can help families thrive,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “Communities around the nation are using the County Health Rankings to drive improvements in education, housing, job training, healthy food options, and more, as they work to build a Culture of Health.”
County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tools, which include a database of evidence-informed approaches, personalized coaching, and a range of other resources, can assist communities in their efforts to improve health.