Within each calendar year, the County Health Rankings, which is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, measure the health status of nearly every county in the nation and rank them within their respective states.
The Rankings are compiled using county-level measures from a variety of national and state data resources. These measures are standardized and combined using scientifically-informed weights.
Lack of data can affect the rankings and counties that contained prisons were relegated to premature death, motor vehicle crash deaths, homicide, low birth-weight births and teen birth statistics.
In the latest rankings, Jackson County ranked No.31 on the comprehensive list for the State of West Virginia. Pendleton County took top honors while McDowell County was listed at No.55 as the least healthy County in the Mountain State.
In comparison, Wood County ranked No.20 and surprisingly, Kanawha came in at relatively low No. 38.
Among the data that plagued Jackon’s numbers, adult smoking was a glaring factor with a reported 25% smoker ratio reported as the national average stands at 14%. Jackson County fell slightly below the reported West Virginia average of 26%.
Jackson County reported a 36% obesity rate while the national average is 25% and rising. The West Virginia average is 32%.
As the excessive drinking rate stands at 8% nationally, Jackson County came in above the state reported average of 10%.
Also in the “Health Behaviors” category, forty two teen births were reported in Jackson County in 2012. Forty six was the West Virginia average per county. The national average is twenty two.
While the studies are a fleeting glimpse into community health across the nation, it is essentially up to each county to analyze their own data and develop strategies to make their world a healthier landscape for future generations.