The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released its 2017 County Health Rankings and one of its key findings suggests we need to do better: “More Americans are dying prematurely across the U.S.” The real “Uh-Oh!” about this finding is that the greatest surge in premature death is in our younger generations, those ages 15 to 44. Contributing factors to this unfortunate statistic include an escalation in drug overdose and other injury-related deaths. As a result, RWJF’s Key Findings Report emphasizes opportunities to grow the health of our youth and young adults. You can access the full report here.
As for our home states of Indiana and the Carolinas, here’s how we stacked up:
- Indiana is on par with the national median for premature deaths (7,700 years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 population), but still experiences rates above the national median for smoking (21% versus national median of 17%) and air pollution.
- North Carolina comes in below the national median for premature deaths (7,200 years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 population), but nevertheless has rates higher than the national median for smoking (19%) and driving deaths that involve alcohol (32% versus the national median of 30%).
- South Carolina’s premature death rate is significantly above the national median (8,200 years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 population), and the state suffers from higher than national median rates of smoking (20%), obesity (32%), driving deaths that involve alcohol (38%), and uninsured (16%).
To find Health Outcomes and Health Factors data for every state and its counties, choose a state from this map. Health Outcomes use an equal weighting of length and quality of life, while Health Factors consider weighted scores for health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment of a locale. The Rankings and Key Findings Report are reputable guides for identifying public health needs at state and local levels—a valuable resource for grant proposals!