Local counties split over health
Four area counties rank lower than many of Ohio’s counties in the 2019 County Health Rankings data released Tuesday.
The state-by-state report was released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Monroe and Harrison counties are in the top half of Buckeye State counties in terms of health outcomes, but Belmont and Jefferson counties are in the bottom half of Ohio’s 88 counties for this measurement of health.
Robert Sproul, Belmont County’s deputy health commissioner, said Tuesday, “We are presently reviewing the report and the data collection sources before we can make an informed statement. We see where our number improved, but as they state on their own site, data from the previous year should not be compared with this year.”
For health outcomes, Ohio’s report shows these rankings: Monroe, 36th; Harrison, 44th; Belmont, 50th; and Jefferson, 78th.
Researchers take into account premature death, quality of life, poor or fair health, the number of poor physical health days and poor mental health days, and low birth weight to determine the rankings for health outcomes.
Meanwhile, the four area counties fare worse than most of their Ohio counterparts in terms of health factors. In this category, rankings are Belmont, 59th; Harrison, 68th; Monroe, 75th; and Jefferson, 76th.
On a brighter note, the four counties have a slightly lower percentage of adult smokers than Ohio’s statewide average, which is 23 percent.
According to the report, the adult smoker rate is 21 percent in Monroe, Harrison and Jefferson counties and 22 percent in Belmont County.
Rankings for health factors take into account health behaviors, such as adult smoking, adult obesity, food environment index, physical inactivity, access to exercise opportunities, excessive drinking, alcohol-impaired driving deaths, sexually-transmitted infections and teen births.
The County Health Rankings annual report develops rankings for each county and state utilizing data sets that describe individual health behaviors, education and jobs, quality of health care and the environment.