With the release of the 2013 County Health Rankings, Kansas counties can see how they compare with their neighbors so they can identify where they do well and where they can improve.
According to the 2013 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Kansas, starting with most healthy, are Johnson, Riley, Stevens, Pottawatomie and Ellis. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Woodson, Elk, Chautauqua, Wyandotte and Cherokee. Four of the five least-healthy counties are located in Southeast Kansas. Greeley, Wallace and Stanton counties are not ranked because of insufficient data.
The County Health Rankings rank nearly every county in all 50 states according to their summary measures of health outcomes and health factors. Health outcomes describe the current health status of a county and are influenced by 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.
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. 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.
What we know
The 2013 County Health Rankings help us see how where we live, learn, work and play influences how healthy we are and how long we live.
Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino of the Kansas Health Institute last year recorded this video, which answers some key questions about the value of the County Health Rankings as a community health tool.
What we can do
The Rankings are one part of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program. Communities are taking information from the County Health Rankings and using the County Health Roadmaps to build connections with local and national partners to improve health.
In Kansas the rankings prompted some counties that ranked low in previous years to undertake initiatives to improve the health of their citizens. The initiative in Wyandotte County — Healthy Communities Wyandotte — is perhaps the most notable. In Southeast Kansas, an effort known as Project 17 aims to improve the region’s quality of life and economic opportunities.
Determined to move Wyandotte County, Kansas, out of last place in the County Health Rankings, Mayor Joe Reardon and community partners are working together to improve the health of the county’s citizens.