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Douglas tops Illinois counties for good health

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

CHICAGO – A new report finds the healthiest county in Illinois is Douglas County, in the central part of the state, and the least healthy is Alexander County, at the state’s southern tip.

The report released Wednesday is the fourth annual county rankings from University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It brings together a variety of data on factors such as smoking, obesity, teen birth rates, poverty and access to dentists and primary care doctors.

The rankings are part of a project to help counties take action to improve health. The University of Wisconsin has a website providing guidance to counties and, in February, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded six $25,000 prizes to communities that are organizing to improve health. The winning communities were in five states: California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota.

“Rather than guessing, communities can use the county health rankings and really look at specific drivers of health and outcomes, and make plans and take action to improve health,” said Elissa Bassler, of the Illinois Public Health Institute, a nonprofit group that promotes partnerships to work on health issues such as obesity and physical education in schools.

Nationally, the report shows unhealthy counties have higher rates of childhood poverty compared to healthy counties, a pattern that holds true for Douglas and Alexander counties in Illinois.

In Douglas County, the state’s healthiest, 16 percent of children live in poverty. In Alexander County, the unhealthiest, 48 percent of children live in poverty. The state’s overall child poverty rate is 21 percent.

The rate of low birth weight babies is twice as high in Alexander County compared to Douglas County, and the rate of births to teenagers is more than twice as high. Alexander County has fewer dentists and primary care doctors per capita compared to Douglas County. Fewer women get mammograms in Alexander County and fewer people with diabetes get regular blood sugar screening to help them control their condition.

Following Douglas on the list of the healthiest counties in Illinois are Jo Daviess, Woodford, Mercer and Henry counties.

The five least healthy counties are all in southern Illinois: Alexander, Gallatin, Edwards, Franklin and Pulaski.

Cook County, the state’s most populous, ranked 78th out of 102 counties in the report, with higher rates compared to the state’s healthiest county of child poverty, violent crime, low birth weight, adult smoking and excessive drinking.

• • •

Here's a look at how the counties rank, from healthiest to least healthy:

1. Douglas

2. Jo Daviess

3.Woodford

4.Mercer

5.Henry

6.DuPage

7.Kendall

8.Schuyler

9.Brown

10.McDonough

11.Pike

12.Kane

13.Calhoun

14.DeKalb

15.Clinton

16.Lake

17.McHenry

18.Whiteside

19.Washington

20.Piatt

21.Monroe

22.Ogle

23.Champaign

24.Effingham

25.Will

26.Menard

27.Hancock

28.Boone

29.Tazewell

30.Shelby

31.Moultrie

32.Warren

33.McLean

34.Ford

35.Bureau

36.Cumberland

37.Jersey

38.Henderson

39.Morgan

40.Lee

41.Grundy

42.Fayette

43.Randolph

44.Adams

45.Macoupin

46.Wayne

47.Scott

48.Stark

49.Clay

50.Stephenson

51.Richland

52.Perry

53.Carroll

54.Rock Island

55.Coles

56.Wabash

57.Cass

58.Putnam

59.DeWitt

60.Pope

61.Greene

62.Bond

63.Jasper

64.Marshall

65.Johnson

66.Peoria

67.Union

68.Iroquois

69.Fulton

70.White

71.Clark

72.Kankakee

73.Jackson

74.Knox

75.Logan

76.Edgar

77.LaSalle

78.Cook

79.Montgomery

80.Sangamon

81.Christian

82.Winnebago

83.Madison

84.Livingston

85.Crawford

86.Macon

87.Williamson

88.St. Clair

89.Lawrence

90.Jefferson

91.Marion

92.Mason

93.Hamilton

94.Hardin

95.Massac

96.Vermilion

97.Saline

98.Pulaski

99.Franklin

100.Edwards

101.Gallatin

102.Alexander

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