Ozaukee County ranks healthiest in Wisconsin and Menominee County is the least healthy county in the state, according to the ninth annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI).
An easy-to-use snapshot that compares counties within states, the Rankings show that where you live influences how well and how long you live. The local-level data make it clear that good health is influenced by many factors beyond medical care including housing, education, and jobs.
This year’s new Rankings State Reports show meaningful gaps in health persist not only by place, but also by race and ethnicity. Looking at differences by place and race offers a more complete picture of health. This year’s analyses show that lack of opportunity — such as education, jobs and affordable housing — disproportionately affects people of color across the nation and within Wisconsin.
The new Rankings State Reports call attention to key drivers of health, such as children in poverty. They are less likely to have access to well-resourced and quality schools, and have fewer chances to be prepared for living-wage jobs. The Wisconsin State Report reveals that in Wisconsin, 16 percent of children live in poverty, compared to the U.S. rate of 20 percent. Among racial and ethnic groups in Wisconsin, rates of children in poverty range from 11 percent to 44 percent with American Indian/Alaskan Native children faring the worst and white children faring the best.
“Children as our future is not a cliché. They are our future workforce, caretakers and leaders. The County Health Rankings underscore the need to make children’s health a priority and invest in what we know works,” said Karen Ordinans, executive director of the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin. “The Rankings allow us to tell the story about our strengths and opportunities for improvement as a state. They confirm overall health is driven by various social and economic factors that cannot be ignored any longer. We need to come together and collectively address child poverty and health, at the state level and in each county, if we want Wisconsin to proudly be one of the healthiest states in the country.”
“We can’t be a healthy, thriving nation if we continue to leave entire communities and populations behind,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “Every community should use their County Health Rankings data, work together, and find solutions so that all babies, kids, and adults – regardless of their race or ethnicity – have the same opportunities to be healthy.”
According to the 2018 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Wisconsin, starting with most healthy, are Ozaukee County, followed by Taylor, Pepin, Washington, and Waukesha counties. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Menominee, Milwaukee, Sawyer, Adams and Langlade counties.
“The time is now to address long-standing challenges like child poverty,” said Sheri Johnson, PhD, director of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. “This year’s Rankings are a call to action to see how these persistent health gaps play out locally, take an honest look at their root causes, and work together to give everyone a fair shot at a healthier life.”