HAZARD—In the year when officials and citizens countywide are making great strides to promote gardening and better eating in Perry County, 2014 County Health Rankings were announced, placing Perry County at the very back of the 120 county pack.
Perry County took Floyd County’s title as least healthiest this year, after sitting just one spot shy last year. This is the fifth year the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute have conducted this report, which ranks the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states. Since the first rankings were released in 2010, Perry has consistently ranked among the state’s top 5 unhealthiest counties.
According to the report, 35 percent of Perry Countians live in poor or fair health, compared to the 21 percent in the state. Adult smoking and obesity came in with high marks as well, at 33 percent and 41 percent respectively.
Sixty-eight percent of those in the county have access to exercise opportunities, meaning having adequate access to locations for physical activity like tracks and gyms, though nearly 40 percent of the adult population was reported as having no leisure-time physical activity.
Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Stephanie Mayfield to the National Journal last week that the report is meant to highlight any health care successes in the state and pin point what areas and counties need improvement in the future.
“Furthermore, in Kentucky, thousands of previously uninsured individuals now have access to care after enrolling in a health plan through our health benefit exchange, kynect,” Mayfield said. “With so many people gaining access to health care—and comprehensive analysis on community health such as what is provided in the County Health Rankings—we are in a position to dramatically improve the health of the public.”
According to the report, 18 percent of Perry Countians are uninsured.
Of the bottom 20 counties ranked, 19 are eastern or southeastern counties, including Floyd at 119, Breathitt at 117, Leslie at 108, and Knott at 100.
Amelia Holliday can be reached at (606)-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.