You exercise and eat healthy, but are your neighbors keeping up? Or are they just giving your county a bad name? The 2012 County Health Rankings will give you all the details. This health report card ranks more than 3,000 counties in the U.S. on over 30 measures. Things like the quality of healthcare, exercise and smoking rates, unemployment and poverty, availability of bike paths, and even the number of fast food restaurants. The study, published by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, compared counties within each state, and found several trends throughout the country. The educational levels of the residents directly impacted the overall health of the community. Counties with more college-educated people had lower rates of premature death, smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity. These counties also had the lowest number of children living in poverty, and fewer people who reported being in poor or fair health. Northern states had the highest rates of excessive drinking of alcohol, while southern states had the highest rates of teen births and children living in poverty teen. Unemployment was lowest in the Northeast, central Plains, and Midwest. The Northeast and upper Midwest had the lowest rates of motor vehicle crashes. Key among these findings, say researchers, is that joblessness and poverty are “absolutely connected” to the community’s overall health.
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