Central Alabama counties continue to make significant strides in community health, according to the ninth annual County Health Rankings, recently released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Here are the highlights.
- Jefferson County moved up in the state rankings from #12 to #7 in health factors, including a dramatic improvement from #19 to #7 in health behaviors, which tracks information related to obesity rates, physical-activity prevalence, smoking rates and food access.
- Blount County’s health behaviors ranking jumped from #25 to #11.
- Shelby County remained in the #1 spot as the healthiest county in Alabama.
- St. Clair County improved from #16 to #8 in health outcomes.
- Walker County sustained its gains as the #58 county in health outcomes, confirming stability in its substantial rise from a low point of #67 in 2015.
“While some of Jefferson County’s categories relative to other counties weren’t as high as last year, we are pleased that the overall trend for the past several years has been one of improvement,” said Mark Wilson, MD, Health Officer and Chief Executive for the Jefferson County Department of Health. ”The greatest value in this report, in my opinion, is that it helps us and our partners better understand some of the determinants of health we need to work on to meaningfully impact health in the long run.”
The Bold Goals Coalition has focused efforts on building Healthy Communities, working in collaboration with the Jefferson County and Walker County Health Action Partnerships, whose strategies concentrate on disease prevention, access to care and reduction of existing health disparities in the region. The Coalition is working to ensure all Central Alabama counties will be ranked in the top 10 in Alabama for health outcomes by 2025.
Some of the big-picture projects underway and being driven by Bold Goals Health, an arm of the Bold Goals Coalition, include:
- mobilizing partners throughout the region to improve physical environments, such as adding more sidewalks and recreational spaces where people live
- improving regional systems to enhance access to health care and mental health services
- increasing food access for children through summer and after-school programs
“By identifying evidence-based strategies, the Bold Goals Coalition’s work is increasing access to environments and care that empower individuals to make choices that will positively improve their health,” said Drew Langloh, President & CEO of United Way of Central Alabama and 2018 Chair of the Health Action Partnership of Jefferson County. “This method continues to show measurable results.”
To learn more about specific work that Bold Goals Health and the Bold Goals Coalition are doing to positively impact the quality of life in Central Alabama, please visit www.boldgoals.org.