Concord, NH – Rockingham County is now the healthiest county in New Hampshire, displacing Merrimack County as last year’s healthiest, according to the third annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). Grafton County has taken second after Rockingham this year. According to the Rankings, residents of Coos County have almost twice the rate of premature deaths and three times the rate of children living in poverty as residents of Rockingham County.
The Rankings, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org, include a snapshot of each county in New Hampshire with a color-coded map comparing each county’s overall health ranking. Researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health or “health outcomes” for New Hampshire by county: the rate of people dying before age 75, the percentage of people who report being in fair or poor health, the numbers of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health, and the rate of low-birthweight infants.
The Rankings also consider factors that affect people’s health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. Among the many health factors they look at: rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, excessive drinking among adults, and teenage births; the number of uninsured under age 65, availability of primary care physicians, and preventable hospital stays; rates of high school graduation, adults who have attended some college, children in poverty; community safety; limited access to healthy foods; rates of physical inactivity; and air pollution levels.
The County Health Rankings rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states. They Rankings allow counties to see how they compare to other counties within each State based on a range of factors that influence health including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, and family and social support. This year’s Rankings include new measures, such as how many dentists are in a community per resident.
“This report unfortunately confirms that the health of the residents of Coos and Sullivan Counties lags behind the rest of the State,” said New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Public Health Director Dr. José Montero. “There is room for improvement in Strafford, Belknap, and Carroll Counties as well. We plan to use this and other data we have collected to work toward change in these markers of health for all the citizens of New Hampshire.”
This report is complementary to the New Hampshire State Health Profile the Division of Public Health Services released two years ago. Last year DPHS also released the 2011 Snapshot of New Hampshire’s Public Health Regions, Counties, and the Cities of Manchester and Nashua. This snapshot, a companion document to the 2011 New Hampshire State Health Profile, is meant to assist community leaders and to identify priority health issues in their communities. The 2011 Snapshot also confirms that Coos County fares worse than the State in areas such as obesity, binge drinking, teen birth rates, and access to primary care providers.
To view the entire 2011 New Hampshire State Profile, go to www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/documents/2011statehealthprofile.pdf
The Snapshot Report is available online at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/index.htm#regprof. For more information about the Division of Public Health Services visit the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov.