Lowndes named least healthy county in state

Published 9:04 am Thursday, April 4, 2013

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

Research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute rank Lowndes County dead last of 67 Alabama counties in terms of health outcomes and mortality for 2013.

The county was ranked 65th in morbidity and health factors, 67th in health behaviors, 33rd in clinical care, 64th in social and economical factors and 63rd in physical environment.

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Shelby County was number one in both health outcomes and health factors, while local counties like Dallas County ranked 60th in health outcomes and 64th in health factors, Butler ranked 28th in health outcomes and 58 in health factors and Crenshaw County ranked 19th in health outcomes and 25th in health factors.

According to the report, “The County Health Roadmaps show what we can do to create healthier places to live, learn, work and play.”

Also, “Everyone has a stake in community health. We all need to work together to find solutions. The County Health Rankings and Roadmaps serve as both a call to action and a needed tool in this effort.”

The summary health outcome ratings are based on equal weighting of mortality (length of life) and morbidity (quality of life).

The summary health factors are based on behaviors tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol use and sexual activity counted 30 percent; clinical care, access to care and quality of care counted 20 percent; social and economic factors, education, employment, income, family and social support and community safety counted 40 percent and physical environment, environmental quality and built environment counted 10 percent.

Under the heading of morbidity, Lowndes County had 33 percent of its population in poor or fair health while Alabama had 20 percent and the national benchmark was 10 percent.

The county had a low birthweight average of 12.9 percent compared to 10.4 percent for the state and 6 percent for the national benchmark.

Under the heading of health factors, in which Lowndes County was last, 22 percent of adults smoke, 45 percent have adult obesity, 38 percent are lacking in physical activity and 18 percent drink excessively.

These were all well above the national benchmark of 13 percent for adult smoking, 25 percent for adult obesity, 21 percent for physical inactivity and 7 percent for excessive drinking.

The state had 23 percent of adults smoking, 33 percent adult obesity, 31 percent physical inactivity and 12 percent excessive drinking.

Under clinical care, 17 percent of Lowndes County residents were uninsured, which was the same for the state but above the 11 percent national benchmark.

Under social and economic factors, Lowndes County had a 60 percent graduation rate from high school while the state average was 72 percent.

Lowndes County had 42 percent with some college while the state average was 56 percent and the national benchmark was 70 percent.

Lowndes County had 40 percent of its children in poverty while the state average was 28 percent and a national benchmark was 14 percent.

Some 35 percent of Lowndes County had inadequate social support compared to 23 percent for the state and 14 percent for the national benchmark.

And 56 percent of Lowndes County children were in single-parent household while the state average was 37 percent and the national benchmark was 20 percent.

And in physical environment 26 percent of Lowndes County residents had limited access to healthy foods while the state average was 8 percent and the national benchmark was 1 percent.

Fast found restaurants accounted for 67 percent in Lowndes County, compared to 54 percent for the state and 27 percent for the national benchmark.

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, Lowndes County had a January unemployment rate of 14.5 percent while the state was at 7.8 percent in February.