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Hennepin County Ranks Low in Health Survey

The County Health Rankings ranks almost every county in all 50 states using a standard measure of how healthy people are and how long they live.

Turns out people living in Hennepin County are not as healthy as some of its neighbors. The county was ranked at 52 out of 84 counties in a 2012 study conducted by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Hennepin County's southern neighbor, Dakota County, ranked 8th in the state. While the Hennepin County came in lower than its 48th place last year, Ramsey County to the east came in at 61 in 2012. Rice County to the south was 32nd. Scott County to the west ranked 10th and Washington County was 7th.

This is the third year the rankings have been done as an annual check-up highlighting the healthiest and least healthy counties in all 50 states.

It also includes factors that influence health outside of the doctor’s office, the importance of critical factors such as education rates, income levels, and access to healthy foods, as well as access to medical care, all of which influence how long and how well people live.

The healthiest five counties in Minnesota were Steele as No. 1, then Carver, McLeod, Douglas, and Fillmore counties. The bottom six counties ranked were Cass (84), followed by Mahnomen (83), Pipestone (82), Norman (81), Wadena (80) and Lake (79). Three counties—Traverse, Lake of the Woods, and Kittison—didn't make the survey.

The 2012 data reflects that 19 percent of Hennepin County children live in poverty, while in Ramsey County that number jumps to 25 percent. The number drops to to seven and 12 percent in Washington and Rice counties, respectively. 

Another section says 65 percent of Hennepin County ninth-graders finish high school in four years, compared to 88 percent in Washington, 67 percent in Ramsey and 75 in Rice.    

The final section reports the percentage of all restaurants in Hennepin County that are fast-food establishments to be 53 percent. In Washington County that number drops to 44 percent and in Ramsey and Rice, it hovers at 52 percent in both counties.  

“The County Health Rankings show us that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor’s office," Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of RWJF said in a prepared statement. "In fact, where we live, learn, work and play has a big role in determining how healthy we are and how long we live."

According to the American Public Health Association, this week, April 2-8, is National Public Health Week. Gov. Mark Dayton declared the week for Minnesota as a way to recognize the state's public healthcare system.

"Minnesota's public health system is one of the best in the nation," said Gov. Dayton. "I want to applaud the public health professionals at the Minnesota Department of Health and at local public health and tribal health agencies across the state for doing such a stellar job of protecting our health and improving our overall quality of life."

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