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Neighboring counties fare better in annual health rankings

Goodhue County is in the top half of Minnesota's 87 counties when it comes to the health of its residents, though it lags behind in some areas compared to its neighbors, according to the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report released March 29.

The annual report ranks Goodhue County 23rd in the state for health outcomes, a measure of how healthy residents are right now, and 35th in health factors, which looks at opportunities for residents to be healthy in the future.

Wabasha County ranks ninth in health outcomes and 13th in health factors, while Dakota County ranks 12th in health outcomes and fifth in health factors, according to the report.

The health factors score is based in part on a number of health-related behaviors such as alcohol use, smoking, teenage pregnancy and exercise. The rate of adult obesity is 32 percent in Goodhue County, up about 1 percent from the 2016 report and greater than the overall state score of 27 percent.

Around 13 percent of Goodhue County residents report being in fair or poor health, based on age-adjusted survey responses. The rate is 11 percent in Wabasha County and 10 percent in Dakota County.

Carver County, southwest of the Twin Cities, is the overall healthiest county in the state for health outcomes. Mahnomen County in northwestern Minnesota ranks last in both health outcomes and health factors.

Other report highlights in Goodhue County:

• An estimated 22 percent of adults age 20 and over report participating in no leisure-time physical activity.

• While around 80 percent of residents have adequate access to locations for physical activity — the 14th highest rate in Minnesota.

• The adult smoking rate in the county is 15 percent, just under the statewide rate of 16 percent.

The report is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. It compares counties within each state based on more than 30 factors.

A focus of the 2017 report is an 85 percent nationwide spike in premature deaths attributed to drug overdoses, the highest rates of which are found in suburbs.

"The County Health Rankings show us that where people live plays a key role in how long and how well they live," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "The rankings allow local leaders to clearly see and prioritize the challenges they face — whether it's rising premature death rates or the growing drug overdose epidemic — so they can bring community leaders and residents together to find solutions."

The report can be viewed online at countyhealthrankings.org.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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