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Report Shows Health Improvements Needed for MO Counties

A new report says Missouri residents need to make a few lifestyle changes to stay healthy for the next generation. (Lorie Gelwick Tuter)
A new report says Missouri residents need to make a few lifestyle changes to stay healthy for the next generation. (Lorie Gelwick Tuter)
March 18, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - St. Charles County is first in Missouri for length and quality of life, while Pemiscot County comes in last, according to a new report.

The study, called "County Health, Rankings and Roadmaps," is a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Raquel Bournhonesque, a spokesperson for the researchers, said it shows that where you make your home has a profound impact on how long and how well you live.

"We are ranking communities on factors that they can do something about," she said. "So, community leaders can look closely at the rankings in their county and find common ground, and pinpoint actions that can improve health."

The report looked at such topics as physical health, amounts of smoking and drinking by county, how much exercise people get, and obesity - but it also evaluated factors such as high school graduation rates and teen births.

The number of Missouri adults who smoke is higher than the national average, according to the report, and more traffic accidents involving alcohol occur in Missouri than in some other states. Overall, Bournhonesque said, a lot of work still needs to be done to make sure people are living full, healthy lives.

"This is going in the wrong direction. Adult obesity is trending bad," she said. "So, it's something community leaders need to be paying attention to in terms of where to focus their work."

She noted that Missouri did well in some areas, with a slightly lower than average teen birth rate and lower rate of uninsured residents than the national average.

The report is online at countyhealthrankings.org.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO