Study: Health better but lagging

Published 11:32 am Monday, March 31, 2014


Warren County’s health ranking is rising but remains in the middle of the pack of Mississippi counties in a nationwide health study.

Warren County ranked 32nd among the state’s 82 counties in the fifth annual county Health Rankings released recently by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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The review rates counties in several major areas of public health, including smoking and diet, socioeconomic factors, access to clinical care and the physical environment.

The rankings do not compare states to one another.

The county receives its highest marks for clinical care, ranking 11th in the state — the same ranking it received in 2013. The study noted an increase in the percentage of residents receiving diabetic — 77 percent — and mammography screenings — 62 percent.

How the county’s residents take care of themselves, however, is where Warren County’s numbers take a turn for the worse.

Warren County ranked 74th out of 82 in the health behaviors category, down from 39th in 2013. Adult obesity is up from 39 percent to 40 percent, and 34 percent of residents report no physical activity, such as walking or exercise, during leisure time. The study shows that 75 percent of residents have easy access to exercise facilities. That statistic was not included in the 2013 study.

Recreational facilities include Vicksburg National Military Park and Riverfront Park as well as a number of local gyms.

The teen birth rate held steady at 70 per 1,000 girls age 15 to 19.

Smoking rates among Warren County residents increased from 24 to 26 percent, according to the study. The number differs from the 17.6 percent cited last week by Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Warren County moved up two spots to 55 in the social and economic factors category.

The child poverty rate was 38 percent, up 2 percent from last year and 4 percent higher than the state average. About 53 percent of children in Warren County live in a single-parent home, compared to the state average of 34 percent.

Violent crime dropped to 402 offenses per 100,000 people, from 476 the pervious year. The state average is 273 per 100,000 people. Warren’s population was 48,773 in the 2010 census.

Warren County ranked better than most counties in the region. Of neighboring counties, only Yazoo was ranked higher at 30. Hinds ranked 35th. Sharkey County ranked 55th followed by Copiah County. Claiborne County’s overall health ranked 69th, up from 77th a year ago. No data was reported from Issaquena County, which has the state’s lowest population among the 82 counties.

For the fifth year in a row, DeSoto County rated the healthiest in the state. It was followed by Lamar, Lafayette, Rankin and Madison counties.

Ratings for the study are compiled using data from agencies such as the FBI, Medicare, the Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.