The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin released the 2010 joint study today ranking the healthiest counties in the country. The study based its findings on a variety of factors including:
- Health behaviors -smoking, diet and exercise, alcohol use, and risky sex behavior.
- Clinical care -access to health care and quality of care.
- Social and economic factors -education, employment, income, family/social support, and community safety.
- Physical environment -environmental quality access to sidewalks, park paths, recreational facilities, etc.
Overwhelmingly urban and suburban counties ranked better than the rural ones. It is believed that better access to healthcare and higher average incomes were largely responsible for this outcome. Other prominent factors included prevalence of smoking among the populace and access to grocery stores carrying healthy foods.
Nassau County ranked number one in NY State. The County did especially well in the Healthy Behaviors, Clinical care and Socio-economic factors categories due to the lower than average number of smokers and obese residents, excellent access to medical care, and the higher than average income levels here. However, not surprisingly, Nassau ranked very low in the Enviromental category due to higher than average pollution levels.
What makes this study so important is how the County will use the information. As early as April 2007, Nassau County press releases stated the plan to strive to be the healthiest county in the Country, stating improvements to the physical environment as area of particular concern along with the still too high rates of obesity and smoking among residents.