No. 1 ranking a good start

Published 11:10am Tuesday, April 1, 2014

For the fifth-straight year, we in Shelby County have something to be proud of when it comes to our relative healthiness. But that doesn’t mean we should be complacent.

Last week, the Countyhealthrankings.org website – which ranks every county in every state in the country – named Shelby County the healthiest county in Alabama.

In the list, Shelby County was ranked No. 1 in every category except physical environment, where it ranked 22nd out of Alabama’s 67 counties.

Although Shelby County fared well compared to other areas of Alabama, it lagged behind the highest-ranked areas of the nation.

For example, the county’s adult obesity rate of 30 percent was slightly lower than the state average of 33 percent, but was higher than the 25 percent rate reported elsewhere in the country.

Many places in the United States – particularly in the South – are battling rising adult obesity rates, which can eventually lead to a wide range of health problems.

In Shelby County, we are blessed with a gamut of fitness and recreation offerings, such as city parks, trails, bike-friendly areas and the largest state park in Alabama. There are plenty of opportunities to stay active in Shelby County, and some events such as charity 5K races even come with the added benefit of supporting those in need in our communities.

Shelby County did rank among the best in the nation in its percentage of adults with at least some college education.

Seventy-four percent of Shelby County’s adults had at least some college education, compared to the 70 percent national average and the 57 percent Alabama average. This fares well for the county’s economic future, as companies looking to relocate to an area often take into account an area’s potential workforce.

Perhaps new companies in Shelby County could help to combat the county’s lowest marks in the study: Commute time and air pollution. If more jobs are available in Shelby County, residents won’t have to spend as much time on the road each day, which would help combat both problems.

There’s plenty for Shelby County to be proud of in the study, but it also leaves room for improvement. It would be a shame to waste good data by not learning from it.

The editorial is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.

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