The numbers have not moved significantly, but there have been some improvements.
That’s according to representatives of local non-profit Moving Starke County Forward in response to the recently released County Health Rankings report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute.
Starke County found itself ranked 90th out of 92 Indiana counties in health outcomes, and 87th in health factors. That’s an improvement compared to the previous year. Organization member Jordan Morris says the report considers the health factors portion of the study to be an indicator of future performance.
“We were excited to see that our health factors ranking had increased what I would consider to be pretty significant,” says Morris. “Versus maybe jumping one at a time, this year we had increased…by five spots.”
Before ranking counties across the nation, data are gathered from categories such as length and quality of life. Factors such as education, air quality, physical activity, and alcohol consumption are also included.
Comparing Starke County’s health figures to those provided in previous years is the case Moving Starke County Forward is making. Despite pocketing a relatively low rank compared with neighboring counties, Starke County saw a 10-percent drop in the adult smoking rate compared to the previous year. Physical inactivity is down 3-percent, but obesity is up 1-percent.
Nancy Dembowski says they recognize Starke County may not be able to compete with some of the top performing areas such as Hamilton County.
“I doubt very seriously if, you know, we aspire to have numbers like those,” says Dembowski. “There are just a number of things here that might prevent that. But by the same token, if we can make it better next year that it is this year, then we’re moving in the right direction and I think we would be very happy with that.”
The Indiana State Department of Health says one-third of the state’s adults are obese.
Moving Starke County Forward says it will continue cooperating with other community organizations to make improvements.