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Annual Rankings Show Where Michigan Does Well, Needs Improvement on Residents' Health

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2012

LANSING - According to the third annual County Health Rankings, released yesterday, April 3, by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Michigan continues struggle with obesity, and some infant mortality indicators, while improving upon other health factors. This year, Leelanau County was ranked as the number one healthiest county in Michigan.

While the numbers are not staggering, there continues to be a steady increase in the rates of adult obesity and physical inactivity in Michigan. Further, more babies are continually being born at a low birthweight. The good news is that these rankings allow Michigan counties to see where they can improve, and many communities have begun to do so.

"The annual County Health Rankings are a call to action for communities to work together to develop policies and programs that help people lead healthier lives," said Olga Dazzo, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). "The Rankings underscore the need for Michigan residents to continue to collectively address serious health concerns such as obesity in Michiganders and the rise of our infant mortality rate."

The County Health Rankings rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states, using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live. This year's Rankings include several new measures, such as how many fast food restaurants are in a county and levels of physical inactivity among residents.

Michigan's Rankings, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org/michigan, includes a snapshot of each county in Michigan with a color-coded map comparing each county's overall health ranking. Nearly every county is ranked on health outcomes, how healthy we are, and on health factors, how healthy we can be. Communities and individual counties are encouraged to visit the County Health Rankings website for information on their local health rankings.

Among the many health factors that researchers look at include rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, excessive drinking among adults, and teenage births; the number of uninsured adults, availability of primary care physicians, and preventable hospital stays; rates of high school graduation, adults who have attended some college, children in poverty; community safety; limited access to healthy foods; rates of physical inactivity; and air pollution levels.

"The County Health Rankings show us that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor's office. In fact, where we live, learn, work and play has a big role in determining how healthy we are and how long we live," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of RWJF. "The good news is that businesses, health care providers, government, consumers and community leaders are already joining forces in communities across the nation to change some of the gaps that the Rankings highlight."

April 3 also marks the release of the call for applications for the Roadmaps to Health Prize, a component of the County Health Roadmaps project that recognizes and honors the efforts and accomplishments of U.S. communities working at the forefront of health improvement. Up to six winning communities will be honored in early 2013 and each will receive a $25,000 cash prize. More information can be found online at www.countyhealthrankings.org/prize.

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