GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Several West Michigan counties are among the healthiest in the state and some are among the least healthy.
Kent, Ottawa, Barry and Allegan counties all ranked in the Top 20 healthiest counties in Michigan, according to the latest study released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Calhoun, Muskegon, Oceana and St. Joseph were among the 20 least healthy counties in the atate.
The rankings examine the health and well-being of people living in nearly every county in the United States, and show that how long and well people live depend on multiple factors beyond just their access to medical care.
Rates of childhood poverty, rates of smoking, obesity levels, access to physicians and dentists, rates of high school graduation and college, access to healthy foods and levels of physical activity are among the 25 factors that influence health examined in the rankings.
According to the rankings, several new national trends were observed --
- While rates of premature death are at the lowest level in 20 years, people in the unhealthiest counties are dying too early at more than twice the rates of those in the healthiest counties.
- Child poverty rates have not improved since 2000, with more than one in five children living in poverty.
- Violent crime has decreased by almost 50 percent over the past two decades.
- The counties where people don't live as long and don't feel as well mentally or physically have the highest rates of smoking, teen births, and physical inactivity, as well as more preventable hospital stays.
- Teen birth rates are more than twice as high in the least healthy counties than in the healthiest counties.
- Access to health care remains an important factor and this year the rankings include residents' access to dentists, as well as primary care doctors. Residents living in healthier counties are 1.4 times more likely to have access to a doctor and dentist than those in the least healthy counties.
The complete listing of Michigan counties --
7. Grand Traverse
52. Van Buren
63. St. Joseph
67. St. Clair
70. Presque Isle
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