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Report Shows Mixed Results For Area Counties In Improving Health

By Jenny Callison, posted Mar 22, 2019
Brunswick County has made steady progress in improving the health status of its residents, according to the newest County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report that was issued this week.

The 2019 report, which consists of data for 2018, ranks Brunswick 34th among North Carolina’s 100 counties for health outcomes and 25th for health factors. Both those rankings are up from two years ago, when Brunswick was ranked 44th for outcomes and 30th for factors. Average life expectancy for Brunswick County residents is 78.4 years.

Pender County, however, has fallen in both categories over the past three years. Its current rankings are 57th for health outcomes and 34th for health factors, down from the 2017 list, which showed Pender at 20th for outcomes and 31st for factors. Pender County residents’ average life expectancy is 76.8 years.

New Hanover County, meanwhile, has fallen in terms of its health outcomes, from 11th in the 2017 report to 19th in the just-released rankings. It has held steady in its health factors ranking, at 13th. Of the three counties, New Hanover has the highest average life expectancy: 78.9 years.

Health outcomes rankings are a gauge of how long people live, on average, in a given county and how healthy those people feel. Measures in this category include leading causes of death for people under age 75, and quality of life factors such as physical health, mental health and low birthweight.

Health factors include county residents’ health-related behaviors, such as adult smoking, obesity, access to exercise opportunities, excessive drinking and teen births. Other factors are a county’s available clinical care – including the rate of uninsured residents; social and economic factors and physical environment.

The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The program’s goals, according to its website, are to build awareness of the multiple factors that influence health, provide a reliable, sustainable source of local data to help communities identify opportunities to improve their health, engage and activate local leaders from many sectors in creating sustainable community change and connect and empower community leaders working to improve health.

Look for more details about the three counties' health data, along with comments from their health officials, in the April 4 print edition of the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.
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