EMMET COUNTY - New data released in 2014 show that Emmet County jumped from 36th to 11th out of Michigan's 82 reporting counties in terms of its Health Behaviors. These include alcohol and drug use, diet and exercise, sexual activity and tobacco use. Emmet County also continues to earn high marks for its Health Outcomes, taking 13th place in the state for factors affecting the quality and length of the life of its residents.
The County Health Rankings, now in their fifth year, are the product of a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. They measure the health of nearly all counties in the nation and rank them within states. Rankings are compiled using county-level measures from a variety of national and state data sources.
Linda Yaroch, Health Officer for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, said there is reason to celebrate Emmet County's improved numbers in areas such as adult smoking, obesity and exercise. "It's hard to get those numbers moving in the right direction," she said, "so any improvements are noteworthy." She also noted that changes in data collection may be partly responsible for the big jump in Emmet's Health Behaviors ranking. "The metrics that drive County Health Rankings are being improved all the time; in some cases, it's hard to get an apples-to-apples comparison between years."
Yaroch said Emmet County's high marks speak well of the community, but added there is still much for Emmet to learn from the new data published at www.countyhealthrankings.org. The County Health Rankings site allows visitors to compare each county against state and national rankings, and against its own rankings from previous years. Rankings now include several new health indicators, such as access to mental health providers, access to exercise opportunities and a food environment index.
"We should consider the rankings a call to action," Yaroch said, adding that County Health Roadmaps found at the County Health Rankings website provide action steps for public health agencies, businesses, educators, philanthropists, investors, nonprofits, local government and healthcare providers to improve the overall health of their communities. "All members of the community affect, and are affected by, these rankings," she said.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information, visit www.nwhealth.org or call (800) 432-4121.