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April 25, 2013

Lafayette County: Citizens health improving

Mayo — Jana Hart from the Lafayette County UF/IFAS Extension Office updated the Lafayette County Board of County Commissioners on the health of its citizens at a recent meeting.

Hart referenced a report from County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, which is published online at www.countyhealthrankings.org by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). This is the fourth year they have published results.

Their latest 2013 report was released on March 20. It examines the health and well-being of people living in nearly every county in the United States. The study found that rates of premature deaths are at the lowest level in 20 years, however, people in the unhealthiest counties are dying too early at more than twice the rates of those in the healthiest counties.

According to their website, the study relies on a robust set of data and analysis that allows counties to see what is making residents sick or healthy, and how they compare to other counties in the same state. The Rankings data helps to lay the groundwork for health improvement efforts of governors, mayors, business leaders, and citizens across the country.

The County Health Rankings show that how long and how well people live depends on multiple factors beyond just their access to medical care. It examines 25 factors that influence health, including rates of childhood poverty, rates of smoking, obesity levels, teen birth rates, access to physicians and dentists, rates of high school graduation and college attendance, access to healthy foods, levels of physical inactivity, and percentages of children living in single parent households.

The Rankings are based on a model of population health emphasizing factors that, if improved, could make communities healthier places to live, learn, work and play, and are based on summary composite scores calculated from individual measures. There are eight different summary composites:  

1.   Overall Health Outcomes

2.   Health Outcomes – Mortality

3.   Health Outcomes – Morbidity

4.   Overall Health Factors

5.   Health Factors – Health behaviors

6.   Health Factors – Clinical care

7.   Health Factors – Social and economic factors

8.   Health Factors – Physical environment

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