Government and Health Care

Kent County ranks 16th in state for health

March 21, 2013
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A national report said Kent County residents are healthier than they were three years ago and healthier than most of their counterparts in Michigan.

The Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Foundation ranked Kent County at 16th of the state’s counties for healthy outcomes. In 2010, the same reported listed Kent County as 22nd in Michigan. The survey measured how long people live, how healthy people feel, and the status of their mental well-being.

“The data indicated a slight decrease in the percentage of smokers, an increase in people receiving diabetes screenings and mammograms, fewer violent crimes, and lower unemployment,” said Adam London, the acting health officer for the Kent County Health Department, in a statement.

Overall, London felt the survey’s scores were very positive for the county. But he also said there are several areas where there is a need for improvement. “Kent County did see morbidity and mortality scores drop this year because Kent County residents reported more days when they felt physically or mentally unhealthy,” he said.

London also recommended that providers, including the health department, continue their efforts to ensure that pregnant women receive good prenatal education, nutrition and medical care.

But everything in the report wasn’t so rosy, especially when county residents were compared to the nation’s population.

The survey found that 20 percent of Kent County children live in poverty, while 14 percent across the country do. Fifty-one percent of restaurants in the county are classified as the fast food variety, while only 27 percent are in that category nationwide. And 18 percent of adults in the county admitted being heavy or excessive drinkers, while only 7 percent confessed that nationally.

Kent County was the most populous county in Michigan to earn a top-20 ranking in the survey. More information on the survey can be found at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

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