Annual County Health Rankings Released: Where Illinois Counties Do Well and Opportunities for Improvement

IL_RankingWoodford County ranks healthiest in Illinois and Alexander County is the least healthy county in the state, according to the fifth annual County Health Rankings, released last week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

 

How does your county stack up? Find out here.

According to the 2014 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Illinois, starting with most healthy, are Woodford County, followed by Kendall, DuPage, Schuyler, and JoDaviess Counties. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Alexander, Gallatin, Franklin, Saline, and Pulaski.

How are the counties ranked? The Rankings provide county-to-county comparisons within a state, looking at 29 different factors that influence health including smoking, high school graduation rates, employment, physical inactivity, and access to healthy foods. This year’s Rankings also feature several new measures including housing, transportation, and access to mental health providers.

Why do the rankings matter? “The County Health Rankings show us how health is influenced by our everyday surroundings-where we live, learn, work, and play,” said Bridget Catlin, PhD, MHSA, director of the County Health Rankings. Nationally, this year’s Rankings show that people living in the least healthy counties are twice as likely to have shorter lives as people living in the healthiest counties. Unhealthy counties also have twice as many children living in poverty and twice as many teen births as the healthiest counties.

How do the rankings create opportunities for change? “The Rankings motivate community leaders and citizens to work together in new and creative ways to build a culture of health.  Because much of what affects our health happens beyond medical care, the Rankings underscore how important it is to build communities where getting healthy, staying healthy, and making sure our kids grow up healthy are top priorities,” said Elissa J. Bassler, CEO of the Illinois Public Health Institute.

The County Health Rankings is part of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. The program includes the Roadmaps to Health Action Center which provides local leaders with tools, step-by-step guides, and stories to help communities identify and implement solutions that make it easier for people to live healthy lives.