Published: Thu, March 30, 2017
Medical | By Dorothy Lyons

Premature deaths rise in U.S. as opioid epidemic worsens

Premature deaths rise in U.S. as opioid epidemic worsens

An example is LiveWell Lawrence, a coalition of about 150 people who are working to making it easier for Douglas County residents to eat healthy foods, be physically active and live tobaccofree.

Ranked at the bottom, starting with the least healthy counties, are: Union, Gadsen, Madison, Putnam and Hamilton, according to the eighth annual County Health Rankings.

Shawnee County's overall rankings in recent years had been 51st in 2016, 55th in 2015, 65th in 2014, 70th in 2013 and 65th in 2012. However, interestingly, the access to exercise opportunities was lowest in Jones County (60 percent) compared to 86 percent in Houston and 77 percent in Bibb and 74 percent in Peach.

The number of uninsured people in Boone County has declined to 12 percent, 2 percent below the state average.

The rates of youth disconnectedness are higher in rural counties (21.6 percent) than in urban counties (13.7 percent), according to the report.

Raleigh, Nicholas, Monroe, Mingo, Mercer, Greenbrier and Fayette counties were also among the counties with worsening rates.

Nationally, the report found that the drug overdose epidemic is one of the leading causes of death among 25-to-44 year olds across the nation.

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"We are constantly working to improve our number, but more importantly we are seeking ways to improve the quality of life at a local level", he said. Anyone interested in participating can contact Amy Wergin, Manitowoc County health officer, at 920-683-4155 or Short at 920-652-0238.

Those figures showed Shawnee County's overall ranking among Kansas counties was 65th this year, compared to 51st last year. It measures not only health outcomes, which represents a community's general state of health, but also health factors, or what influences an area's health. For 2017, it is 10th on health outcomes and ninth on health factors.

Meanwhile, Loudon County, Farifax County and Arlington County were the first, second and third healthiest in the state, respectively.

"The rankings are interesting because they're rankings", said Dr. Michael Mendoza, commissioner of the Monroe County Department of Public Health. The factor was not included in the health factor rankings, but Spegman said a high rate would not bode well for the individuals or their community. That percentage includes the number of households with at least one of four problems: overcrowding, high housing costs, incomplete plumbing facilities and incomplete kitchen facilities.

"It means that the rate of premature death (years of potential life lost before age 75) is higher in Bibb County than in a county with a better rank", Havrilla said.

However, Sedgwick County lags behind others when it comes to physical environment and social and economic factors. The statewide rate is 18 percent. The rankings measure lifespan and quality of life in almost every county in the nation.

The lower Hudson counties illustrate that often there is a fairly narrow gap between outcomes and the factors that lead to those results.

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