How Do Wichita and Surrounding Counties Rank in Overall Health?
This year’s County Health Rankings, which size up the relative health of people in more than 3,000 US counties, was released Tuesday. And although Wichita County was only compared to others within Texas, there are some interesting and revealing general findings nation wide.
For example, counties with a higher proportion of college-educated residents had a lower number of premature deaths, lower smoking rates, less physical inactivity and obesity and fewer teen births — which didn’t surprise Pat Remington, an associate dean at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health who served as the study’s director.
“High school dropout rates may not be directly related to cancer or heart disease, but they are indirectly related,” he said. “If you have a community with a high number of high school dropouts, with a high unemployment rate and with children living in poverty, you can absolutely predict that poor health outcomes will be coming down the road.”
“[When] you’re unemployed, you’re likely to be without insurance and to have a lot of stress in your life,” he continued. “You often give up hope and that often leads to substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors. So all these things are part of a web of health.”
So how did Wichita and surrounding counties rank in overall health within the great state of Texas?
Out of 254 Texas counties, 221 actually ranked and Wichita County sits pretty close to the middle of the pack at 136th. Baylor County (southwest of Wichita) came in a little closer to the bottom at 158th. Wilbarger County (northwest of Wichita) ranked 102nd and Baylor (east-southeast of Wichita) edged out the previous four at 69th.
The main health outcomes in Wichita County that led to the higher overall ranking are a high mortality rate (premature deaths) - 159th, and health behaviors such as: adult smoking, adult obesity, physical inactivity, excessive drinking, vehicle crash death rate, STDs and teen birth rate - all of which ranked higher than the Texas averages at 167th.
The Texas county taking the #1 spot is Collin County - which is located southeast of Wichita in the Mckinney and Plano areas.
You can check out all of the Texas county rankings at CountyHealthRankings.org.