By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
Clinton County became a healthier county this year overall, but landed the spot as the worst Iowa county in terms of health behaviors, a national report shows.
In the 2013 County Heath Rankings, Clinton County ranks 86 out of 99 Iowa counties in overall health outcomes. The county improved from 93 in 2012 and surpassed its 2011 spot of 89. Clinton County ranks 92 in overall factors that influence health, up from 90 in 2012.
Of Iowa’s 99 counties, Sioux County ranked highest in overall health outcomes; Johnson County was ranked highest for all factors that influence health.
The report compares the health of counties in every state across the nation, measured by overall health and factors that influence health. Those factors include health behaviors such as adult obesity, smoking and physical inactivity.
Clinton County ranked 99 for health behaviors in the 2013 results, falling from 95 in 2012. The 2013 results show the county had an increase in adult smoking from 26 to 28 percent while the state saw a decrease in adult smokers from 19 to 18 percent. Clinton County also had 15 more sexually transmitted infections in 2013 than 2012 at 338 instances.
Clinton County moved 83 to 73 in the mortality category with the number of premature deaths falling from 7,232 in 2012 to 6,623 in 2013.
The county also saw a small improvement in morbidity, moving from 98 to 96 in 2013. This improvement is due to changes in the number of poor physical health and poor mental health days and low birthweight.
Clinical care in Clinton County improved, moving from 52 to 49. However, the report creators advise not to compare year-to-year data on the factors that Clinton County saw improvement on including the ratio of primary care physicians and dentists to residents.
Clinton County's physical environment improved compared to last year, moving from 87 to 76. This category measures the county's drinking water safety, access to recreational facilities, limited access to healthy foods and fast food restaurants.
The county saw no movement in regards to social and economic factors. Clinton County fell from 83 in 2011 to 90 in 2012 and held the same spot in the latest report. One major contributing factor was the violent crime rate in Clinton County. The rate fell from 430 in 2012 to 408 in 2013. The rate is measured per capita per 100,000 population. The state benchmark for crime rate is 280.
Other area counties saw substantial improvements in the health rankings.
Jackson County improved its health ranking, going from 66 in 2012 to 48 in 2013. The number of premature deaths in the county decreased from 6,376 in 2012 to 5,979 in 2013. The number of smokers and excessive drinkers decreased also. However, the county had an increase in the number of sexually transmitted infections from 185 in 2012 to 242 in 2013. Jackson County did not report a violent crime rate in 2012 or 2013.
Out of 102 Illinois counties, Whiteside County ranked 18, an improvement from its place at 38 in 2012. Carroll County fell from 29 to be ranked 53 in 2013.