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Here's to your health, Mecklenburg
Study finds county ranks fourth-best in N.C.
 
Published Friday, May 4, 2012 8:17 am
by Herbert L. White

Mecklenburg County residents are among the healthiest North Carolinians, according to a new survey.

The 2012 County Health Rankings sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found Mecklenburg the fourth healthiest in the state. Neighboring Wake and Orange counties top N.C.’s list, with Union third, followed by Mecklenburg and Dare.

Fourteen percent of Mecklenburg residents were found to be in poor or fair health compared to 18 percent of North Carolinians and 10 percent of Americans.

FILE PHOTO
Mecklenburg is the fourth-healthiest county in North Carolina, according to the 2012 County Health Rankings sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Wake County, which includes Raleigh, is No. 1, followed by Orange and Union counties.

The third annual survey of more than 3,000 U.S. counties and Washington, D.C., compares the healthiest and least healthy counties as well as factors that lead to those outcomes, such as education rates, income, access to healthy foods and medical care. 

“The County Health Rankings show us that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor’s office. In fact, where we live, learn, work and play has a big role in determining how healthy we are and how long we live,” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey M.D. said in a statement. “The good news is that businesses, health care providers, government, consumers and community leaders are already joining forces in communities across the nation to change some of the gaps that the rankings highlight.”

The rankings consider factors that affect people’s health in four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. This year’s survey includes new measures, such as the number of fast food restaurants in a county and levels of physical inactivity.

In Mecklenburg, for instance, 46 percent of residents eat at fast food joints, compared to 25 percent of Americans and 49 percent of North Carolinians. Twenty percent of Mecklenburg residents are physically inactive compared to 25 percent in N.C. and 21 percent nationally.

Communities can also apply for the Roadmaps to Health Prize, which recognizes efforts to improve health for all residents. As many as six communities will be honored in 2013 and earn a $25,000 cash prize.

“After three years, we’ve learned that people across the entire nation want to know how the health of their county compares to others in their state. This annual check-up helps bring county leaders together to see where they need to improve,” said Patrick Remington, M.D., M.P.H., professor and associate dean at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

The survey found some health factors reflect distinct regional patterns. For example:

• Excessive drinking rates are highest in northern states.

• Teen births, sexually transmitted infections, and childhood poverty rates are highest in the South.

• Unemployment is lowest in the Northeast, Midwest, and Central Plains.

• Motor vehicle fatalities are lowest in the Northeast and upper Midwest.

On the Net:

www.countyhealthrankings.org 

www.countyhealthroadmaps.org/prize

 

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