Out of the 102 counties in Kansas, Ford County comes in 26th when ranked by resident health, according to the fourth annual County Health Rankings, released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Out of the 102 counties in Kansas, Ford County comes in 26th when ranked by resident health, according to the fourth annual County Health Rankings, released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. According to the 2013 Rankings, the healthiest county in Kansas is Johnson, followed by Riley, Stevens, Pottawatomie and Ellis. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Woodson, Elk, Chautauqua, Wyandotte and Cherokee. The report shows 16 percent of the Ford County population has "poor to fair health," a number 3 percent higher than the state average. The percentage of adult smokers is less than state numbers, though, with a reported 15 percent compared to the states 18 percent. Ford County showed similar numbers to Finney County when ranking adult obesity; exactly one-third of each counties population reported a body mass index of greater than or equal to 30, which indicates obesity. The state of Kansas as a whole reported a 30 percent adult obesity rate. Sedgwick County also calculated to 30 percent. A higher percentage of residents in Ford County also have limited access to healthy foods, according to the report; 14 percent of citizens are categorized as low income and do not live close to a grocery store. The county also has higher rates for motor vehicle crash deaths and sexually transmitted infections per 100,000 people as well as a teen birth rate of nearly double that of the state. For every 1000 females age 15-19 in Ford County, 75 will give birth as a teen as compared to 41 for the state. When looking into the physical environment, Ford County took the lead over surrounding counties for drinking water safety. The report shows 0 percent of the population was exposed to water exceeding violation limits during the past year. In Finney County, 79 percent of the population was exposed to bad water conditions. Nearly every county in all 50 states is ranked by County Health Rankings, according to their summary measures of health outcomes and health factors. Nationally, the data revealed that unhealthy counties have more than twice the rate of premature deaths as healthy ones and childhood poverty rates are twice as high in unhealthy counties, according to a 2013 release from the Kansas Health Institute. The Kansas data showed similar results. "Residents of the five least-healthy Kansas counties, when compared with their counterparts in the five healthiest counties, are more likely to die prematurely, report fair to poor health and be unemployed. Children in the five lowest-ranked counties are more likely to live in poverty and single-parent households than children in the five highest-ranked counties," the 2013 release read. The foundation's website claims the outcomes describe the current health status of a county's residents and are influenced by a number of health factors, such as high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, and family and social support. Counties can improve their health outcomes by addressing health factors. Follow Abigail on Twitter, @Abigail_dcglobe.