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Study Ranks Counties by Health Factors

A new report says how healthy you are depends a lot on where you live. (Lorie Gelwick Tuter)
A new report says how healthy you are depends a lot on where you live. (Lorie Gelwick Tuter)
March 18, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Benton County is first in Arkansas for length and quality of life, while Phillips 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 things such as physical health, smoking, how much exercise you get, excessive drinking and obesity. But it also evaluated health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment.

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."

Overall, Arkansas has more smokers than the national average, more STDs and more teen births. There are more people without health insurance, and there are more children in poverty than in many other states.

The report is online at countyhealthrankings.org.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - AR