Shelby County healthiest county in state

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

Shelby County holds the title of being the healthiest county in the state, according to one recent study.

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation conducted a study to rank “the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states by using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live,” according to a press release from the university.

“The county health rankings are a check up to see how counties are doing,” said Kate Konkle, an outreach specialist with the University of Wisconsin’s population health institute. “We evaluate two areas; the first is how healthy people are, if they’re dying too early.

“The second area we measure are health factors, different areas that really influence people’s health, including smoking, obesity, access to health care, poverty, education, access to healthy foods and places for physical activity,” Konkle said.

As Shelby County is healthiest in the state, Bullock County is the Alabama county with the poorest health.

The study ranked the top ten healthiest counties in Alabama, starting with the healthiest: Shelby, Lee, Baldwin, Madison, Limestone, Elmore, Morgan, Blount, Houston and Coffee. The ten counties in the poorest health are as follows: Bullock, Perry, Walker, Greene, Dallas, Lowndes, Macon, Talladega, Wilcox and Chilton.

According to the study, citizens of Bullock County are twice as likely to die premature deaths than those in Shelby County. Also, the rate of sexually transmitted infection is four times higher in Bullock County than in Shelby County.

These rankings measure more than physical health, as the study reports 38 percent of children in Bullock County live in poverty, compared to 8 percent in Shelby County. Also, the high school graduation rate in Shelby County is reported as 80 percent, while Bullock reports only 65 percent.

“The idea is that health is the many, many things that affect a community’s health,” Konkle said.