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Study on Healthy Living Shows Issues and Opportunities for Kentucky

April 9, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky. - A new study points out which counties in Kentucky are healthiest and unhealthiest, and it shows where some changes and greater focus on prevention are helping residents make strides toward healthier lives.

The third annual County Health Rankings come from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report looks at how factors like education, jobs, income and environment relate to health.

Kentucky Voices for Health executive director Jodi Mitchell points out that this year, the study, for the first time, looked at physical inactivity, uninsured children and nutrition.

"They've added looking at uninsured children. So, they're getting a bigger picture. They've addressed access to healthy foods, as well as the proliferation of the fast-food market."

The report also examines adult smoking, obesity, excessive drinking, teenage births and availability of primary care.

Mitchell suggests the report is a call to action, especially in terms of reinforcing the need for health care in this country to be more preventive and less reactive.

"We've really had a health system where we are treating the sick and not focusing on creating a health and wellness environment."

Mitchell says the aspects of Kentucky's health rankings that look worst, actually provide the greatest opportunities for improving people's lives.

"Look at what's involved in these rankings and then get communities united on saying, 'What are the areas we want to work together to change?' So, it really is about individual engagement."

This year, Oldham County is considered the healthiest in Kentucky; Owsley County is least healthy.

See the full report at www.countyheathrankings.org.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - KY