By Nora Tooher
Summit County is ranked a respectable – but not robust – county in a new study that measures the health of residents.
The County Health Rankings look at a variety of measures that affect health, including high school graduation rates, access to healthy foods, rates of smoking, obesity and teen births.
The study ranked Summit County 43rd out of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Geauga County, about 30 miles east of Cleveland, is the healthiest county in Ohio, according to data from the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report, a joint effort by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute.
Counties that were named Ohio’s top 10 healthiest were Putnam, second; Delaware, third; Medina, fourth; Mercer, fifth; Wood, sixth; Warren, seventh; Holmes, eighth; Union, ninth and Hancock, 10th.
Summit County, which includes Tallmadge, Cuyahoga Falls and Akron, came in 43rd among Ohio counties for “health outcomes,” including length and quality of life. Summit scored 37th for “health factors,” such as health behaviors like adult smoking (19 percent), adult obesity (29 percent), access to exercise opportunities (91 percent) and teen births (34 percent). The health factors category also measured the county’s performance on clinical care (23rd of all Ohio counties); social and economic factors (43rd) and physical environment (79th), which includes housing and transit.
Scioto County in south central Ohio was ranked the least healthy county in the state. Other counties at the bottom of the rankings were Lawrence, 87th; Adams, 86th; Jackson, 85th and Meigs (84th).
The report also provided information about nationwide health trends, and noted there are significant gaps between the least healthy and healthiest counties. People living in the least healthy counties have twice the premature death rates than those living in the healthiest counties. There are also twice as many children living in poverty and teen births in the least healthy counties as the healthiest counties.
The rankings also show:
• Teen birth rates have decreased about 25 percent since 2007.
• The rate of preventable hospital stays decreased about 20 percent from 2003 to 2011.
• Smoking rates dropped from 21 percent in 2005 to 18 percent in 2012.