New county health rankings released, Hamilton Co. claims number one spot

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 25, 2015) - New rankings provide Hoosiers with a snapshot of the overall health of residents in counties throughout Indiana. The annual report, released Wednesday morning, allows people to monitor about 30 different health categories. For 2015, Hamilton County claimed the number one spot.

The report reveals some disparities between neighboring counties. While Hamilton County is excelling in various areas, Marion County was ranked 74th in the state for health outcomes. The researchers from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who put the list together said social and economic factors can play major roles in the overall health of the community.

"In Marion County,  we are seeing that  there are some barriers to better health," said Abbey Cofsky, a senior program officer. "Almost 30 percent of children are living in poverty. We know that means those children might not have the same opportunities, access to healthy foods, or safe places to play. Those are powerful predictors  of future health."

The annual county health rankings reveal a big difference in the percentage of uninsured people in Hamilton and Marion Counties. Nine percent of residents in Hamilton County are uninsured compared to 19 percent in Marion County. Experts say that keeps many from getting the preventative care they need.

FOX59 sat down with a local doctor who elaborated on the issues he sees each day that lead some to live an unhealthy lifestyle.

"In Indiana,  smoking and obesity play a major role," said Dr. Rich Fogel, chief clinical officer for St. Vincent Health. "Indiana is one of highest smoking rate states in the nation. Thirty-one  percent of Hoosiers are listed as obese. Nearly a quarter of all Hoosiers smoke cigarettes. That’s terrible."

Fogel said staying active is key when it comes to improving your health.

"As a practicing physician, I tell my patients ‘Just get out and walk,'" he said. "You don’t have to join a gym, you don’t have to break a sweat, what you do need to do is have 30 to 40 minutes of physical activity, just walking 4, 5 times a week—that does wonderful things for you."

Boone County did well this year, ranking at No. 3 for health outcomes. Johnson County ranked tenth.

To see where your county ranks, click here.

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