In a recent study released this week by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Johnson County was determined to be the tenth least-healthy county in the State of Tennessee.
The County Heath Rankings is the first report that looks at each of the counties within the United States to assess the health of the population.  This study used a standard formula that measures the general health and longevity of the population in each of the counties within each state.
The County Health Ranking report looks at five standardized measures that appraise the general health of the counties.  The areas include the number of people dying before the age of 75, the percentage of people who are in fair or poor health, the number of days people who report being in poor mental health and the percentage of low-birthweight newborns. Researchers used the latest data available from 2000 to 2008 to determine the ranking for each county.
The report delves further as factors are looked into that affect the health of people in four specific categories.  These include health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, along with physical environment.  Some of the health factors that are included in this study are adult smoking and obesity, binge drinking and teenage pregnancy.  The report also takes into account the number of uninsured adults, the availability of primary care providers, along with preventable hospital stays.   High school graduation statistics, the number of children living in poverty, the percentage of violent crimes, access to healthy food, air pollution levels and the number of liquor stores all are considered in this standardized formula.  “The health of a community depends on many factors, including individual behaviors, the quality of health care, education, jobs and the environment,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN.  “While rankings like this can assist in seeing where the strengths and weaknesses are in a community, ultimately it takes all of us – public health, health care, business, education, and government sectors and individuals – to take steps and create programs and policies that help people lead healthier lives.”
According to the County Health Rankings report, during the time period specified to determine these findings, Johnson County saw 11,434 people die before the age of 75.  Eleven percent of babies born fell below the average birth weight, which is four percent above the target rate for Tennessee.  Thirty-two percent of adults in Johnson County are considered obese, above the target rate of 28 percent. There were 64 babies born to teenage mothers.  The death rate attributed to motor vehicles was 31 in this time period, far above the targeted rate of 19.  The number of children living in poverty within Johnson County for this specific time period was 33 percent, above the targeted 17 percent.  Johnson County schools had a positive 86 percent of their students graduating from high school, above the state targeted percentage of 84.
According to the County Health Rankings report, only 20 percent of Johnson Countians have access to healthy foods.  The goal value for this particular category is 80 percent.
While Johnson County ranked 85 out of the 95 counties in Tennessee, there are areas in which they excel.  According to Beth Rader, Public Information Officer for Northeast Regional Health Department for the State of Tennessee, Johnson County ranks 25th in the state for access to clinical health care.  This not only encompasses access to health care but the quality of care.
“There are some good things going on in Johnson County,” added Rader.  She believes that the recent county ranking report will help identify and compare problems areas within the counties and look for a solution.  On a positive note, Rader added that the number of smokers within the State of Tennessee has declined from 26.7 percent to 23.1 percent. The northeast region of the state ranks number one in the State of Tennessee for immunizations for children under the age of two.  Tennessee as a whole ranks fourth in the nation for childhood immunizations.  According to Rader, it’s going to take a whole community, businesses and schools to work together towards better health.  “Individuals need to take responsibility for their own health,” said Rader.
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