The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released numbers that ranked the states and the counties within those states on Wednesday, March 30.
“We are using the MAPP model, Mobilizing for Action Through Planning and Partnerships,” said Allison Beshear, health educator for the Pennyrile District Health Department. “This model will not only help us to conduct a community needs assessment, but also help to create a community improvement plan for Trigg County.”
There was a MAPP kickoff meeting on March 31 at the Renaissance Center and over 40 people from the county and community agencies were in attendance, and the group will meet periodically throughout the year, pinpointing some health issue that they want to address, Beshear said.
After those meetings, a strategic plan will be developed to address the selected health issues that will be worked on in order to improve the health of Trigg County citizens over the next few years, added Beshear.
The study found that 30 percent of Trigg Countians smoke, compared to 28 percent of Kentuckians as a whole. Beshear said that smoking while pregnant probably contributes to the 10.8 percent of Trigg County babies that are born with a low birthweight, compared with the 8.9 percent state average.
She said that in 2008, the Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) found that 35 percent of pregnant women in Caldwell County smoked while pregnant.
Trigg County matches the state in adult obesity, as 31 percent of adult Trigg Countians are obese, the report indicated. Beshear said that people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 percent body fat are defined as being obese.
The study also stated that 13 percent of those in this county drink “excessively,” compared to 11 percent in the state on average. Beshear said excessive drinking entails drinking more four alcoholic beverages for women, and more than five alcoholic beverages for men on a single occasion in the past 30 days.
Trigg County also had 30 motor vehicle accident deaths per 100,000 people and 134 cases of sexually transmitted diseases per 100,000 people. The state average was 22 motor vehicle accident deaths and 287 cases of STDs, respectively.
The study also found that exactly half of Trigg Countians have access to healthy foods, better than the Kentucky average of 44 percent. Beshear said that people growing food in their gardens and having access to things like farmer’s markets can improve that access.
About 22 percent of adults in Trigg County are uninsured, compared to 19 percent statewide, the study indicated.
“The county health rankings is in it’s second year of publication which allows us to see how each county in Kentucky is ranked and how we compared on issues at the local level to the State,” Beshear said.
The state ranks very low, even near the bottom, on many health issues said Beshear, who added that those statistics can be found on the web site www.statehealthfacts.org.
The 10 healthiest counties in Kentucky, starting with the most healthy, are: Boone, Oldham, Calloway, Woodford, Scott, Lyon, Washington, Owen, Franklin and Fayette. The 10 counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are: Owsley, Martin, Wolfe, Fulton, Magoffin, Perry, Pike, Harlan, Letcher and Knott.
The healthiest of Kentucky’s 120 counties are clustered in the central and western part of the state and the least healthy counties are primarily in the eastern part of Kentucky.
“The County Health Rankings help everyone see that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor’s office and where we live matters to our health,” says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The good news is that there are things counties can do right away to help their residents lead healthier lives. We hope this second annual release of County Health Rankings data will spur all sectors – government, business, community and faith-based groups, education and public health – to work together to find solutions and take action and implement programs and policy changes to improve health.”
The Pennyrile District Health Department serves Trigg, Caldwell, Crittenden, Lyon and Livingston counties.
Beth Fisher of the Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services contributed to this report.