Milwaukee, Ozaukee counties at opposite ends in new health rankings

CREATED Mar 26, 2014

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MADISON - A new report ranks counties in Wisconsin based on how healthy their residents are. Communities at the top and bottom of the list are in southeast Wisconsin.  

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute released the report on Wednesday.
 
Ozaukee County took the number one spot on the list, while Milwaukee sits at the very bottom, only ranking higher than Menominee County.  
 
"These are neighboring counties, just a few miles apart, and yet the picture of health is dramatically different," said Karen Timberlake, director of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
 
Childhood poverty, college attendance, physical inactivity, and access to physicians and dentists, are among the 29 factors used to determine where counties rank. 
 
Also taken into consideration is the rate of premature death, which is defined as any death before the age of 75.
 
"In terms of that premature death statistic, it is twice as bad in Milwaukee County as it is in Ozaukee County." 
 
Smoking is another factor. 
 
"Smoking is expensive and it is inconvenient in this state now with many of the policy changes that have been adopted, and yet still in Milwaukee County, 21% of adults smoke," said Timberlake.
 
That compares with just 12 percent in Ozaukee County. 
 
Experts ranked counties in every state in the nation.  The rankings are meant to provide a snapshot of how various factors affect people's health and to provide tools to improve health.   

For a complete list of the rankings, go to http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/