EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Just how healthy is the county where you live?

That’s exactly what’s behind an annual report that ranks America’s counties based on their overall health.

This county-by-county comparison was just released Wednesday. In Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania alone, the report finds the good and the bad, and what counties can do to improve their health scores.

Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania is considered by many a good place to live. But a new health report tells a different story for several counties. Take for instance the home of some 316,000 people. Luzerne County ranks 60th out of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in a new report by the University of Wisconsin population health institute.

“Health behaviors are definitely a part of an overall community’s health and we know that health behaviors are nested in the context that we live and work and play and worship in,” said Sheri Johnson, director, UW population health institute.

Luzerne County’s ranking is based, in part, on a higher percentage of adult smokers, physical inactivity, and excessive drinking. Its premature death rate is also higher than average.

Lackawanna County isn’t much better. It’s ranked 52nd. Schuylkill, Carbon, and Northumberland counties are also in the bottom 20.

But Union, Snyder, Bradford and Clinton counties all cracked the top 20. So what are these counties doing right? It comes down to more than 30 factors.

“So looking at things like median income, and percent of children who are living in poverty and income and equality might be some clues as to why people in that particular county are living longer or experiencing a better quality of life,” said Sheri Johnson.

Besides rankings, johnson says the report should serve as a health roadmap.

“We hope that leaders of all kinds and levels so everybody from resident leaders to elected officials will dig into the data like you did, look at those areas of strength and weakness,” said Johnson. “There are a lot of solutions that local communities can take action on that are evidence-informed and that’s really where we want people to take the data and move it toward action.”

For the record, Chester County ranked most healthy in Pennsylvania while Philadelphia County ranked least.
The county health rankings report is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Head to this website to see the strengths and weaknesses in the county where you live.