INDIANAPOLIS (AP/WANE) — State health officials say three adjoining central Indiana counties have topped a ranking of the state’s healthiest counties for the second straight year.
Hamilton, Hendricks and Boone counties just north, west and northwest of Indianapolis are ranked as the healthiest of Indiana’s 92 counties in an annual statewide survey released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
That survey assesses health outcomes based on 29 factors that influence health, including smoking, high school graduation rates and physical inactivity.
“What we want to do is motivate community leaders and citizens in each county to work together to really build a culture of health,” said Jan O’Neill, community coach for University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
When it comes to overall health factors, Allen County ranks 37th. According to the study, smoking and obesity in the county are higher than the state average. Sexually transmitted infections and alcohol-impaired driving death rates are also high. It also took into account that fewer mammograms are being done compared to the state’s average.
In the same category, Wells County ranked 9th. There’s still some criteria the county can work on such as decreasing smoking and obesity within the county, and bringing down the rate of hospital stays.
“Those might be areas, and they’re very important areas in our models that you might want to work on as a community,” said O’Neill.
State Health Commissioner William VanNess says the “rankings demonstrate that where you live matters.”
He also says that health habits “start first in the home and are supported through neighborhoods, community coalitions, business, education and government.”
The complete Indiana County ranking from University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute:
More at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
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Online: Health Rankings: http://www.countyhealthrankings.org