The fourth annual County Health Rankings report was released yesterday, ranking the overall health for all 92 counties in Indiana and the rest of the country by using a standard formula measuring how healthy people are and how long they tend to live. Starke County fell under the 10 counties with the lowest health outcomes, while Hendricks County, alongside Hamilton and Boone counties, ranked the highest in health outcomes, according to the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s annual report.
The data revealed that nationally, unhealthy counties tend to have more than twice the rate of premature deaths than healthy ones and childhood poverty rates are generally twice as high in unhealthy counties. These rankings allow counties to compare themselves to other counties within the state, based on a range of factors that influence health such as high school graduation rates, smoking, obesity, and even family and social support. New measures have been included in this year’s Rankings, including the number of dentists are available in a community per resident.
State Health Commissioner Dr. William VanNess said that, statewide, major improvements need made in infant mortality, childhood immunizations, obesity, and smoking.
According to this year’s Rankings, the 10 healthiest Hoosier counties are Hamilton, Hendricks, Boone, Dubois, LaGrange, Wells, Brown, Tippecanoe, Whitley, and Putnam.
The 10 counties with the lowest health outcomes are Lawrence, Vermillion, Sullivan, Orange, Jennings, Starke, Blackford, Fayette, Crawford, and Scott.