Press Release: 1,800 Premature Deaths in Kansas Could Be Prevented

New Report Highlights Health Gaps Among State’s Counties; Details Strategies for Improvement

4 Min Read

Nov 10, 2015


Kansas Health Institute


Media Contacts:

Bethanne Fox
(301) 448-7411 or

Melissa Blair
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
(609) 627-5937 or

Princeton, NJ and Madison, WI—There are substantial health differences among Kansas counties, and eliminating those differences could prevent nearly 1,800 premature deaths every year, according to a new report released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI).

The report also looked at a total of 30 important factors that contribute to how long and how well people live, and found that in Kansas opportunities for health vary widely from county to county.

If every county in Kansas did as well as the counties in the state that performed best on these important health factors, there could be:

    • 111,000 fewer adult smokers
    • 39,000 fewer adults who are obese
    • 111,000 fewer adults who drink excessively
    • 63,000 fewer people who are uninsured
    • 62,000 more adults, ages 25-44, with some education beyond high school
    • 36,000 fewer people who are unemployed
    • 46,000 fewer children in poverty
    • 7,800 fewer violent crimes
    • 73,000 fewer households with severe housing problems

“Everyone in our country, no matter where they live, should have a chance to be the healthiest they can be, and right now they don’t,” said James S. Marks, M.D., M.P.H., RWJF executive vice president. “By highlighting the gaps and the opportunities for people to reach maximum health potential, state and community leaders can help build a Culture of Health for all.”

The report is one of 50 released today. Each identifies significant gaps in opportunities for good health among counties within every state. Each state report details how well the healthiest counties do; the difference that could be made if every county had the same chance to be healthy; and strategies to close the gaps between the healthiest and least healthy places. The full report for the state of Kansas can be found at

“The differences in health that this report and the annual County Health Rankings identify are the result of systems, policies, and choices that consistently benefit some people over others,” said Bridget Catlin, PhD, MHSA, co-director of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. “Data from the County Health Rankings and tools in the Roadmaps to Health Action Center can aid states in their efforts to improve health.”

The Kansas Health Gaps Report is a product of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program. The program offers data, tools, and resources to help communities throughout their journey to build a Culture of Health.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

About the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute advances health and well-being for all by developing and evaluating interventions and promoting evidence-based approaches to policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels. The Institute works across the full spectrum of factors that contribute to health. A focal point for health and health care dialogue within the University of Wisconsin-Madison and beyond, and a convener of stakeholders, the Institute promotes an exchange of expertise between those in academia and those in the policy and practice arena. The Institute leads the work on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and manages the RWJF Culture of Health Prize. For more information, visit

Access the Kansas Health Gaps Report in the Documents & Downloads section.


About Kansas Health Institute

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.

Learn More About KHI