By Linda Kor
Navajo County ranks as one of the least healthy Arizona counties to live in, according to a recent study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. This is the fourth year of the study, which was compiled from statistics garnered from county to national health agencies. According to the foundation, the study measured two types of health outcomes: how long people live and how healthy people feel while alive.
Of the 15 counties In Arizona, Navajo County ranked 13th overall, followed only by Apache and Gila counties.
The report shows that researchers measured counties on 25 health factors, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, access to physicians, family and social support, levels of physical activity and other factors affecting health.
In Navajo County, a sample of the findings show that 17 percent of the adults reported fair to poor health, just slightly above the state average, with 32 percent of the population considered obese, seven percent higher than the average for the state. Navajo County was also shown to have the largest percentage in the state of children under 18 living in poverty at 38 percent.
Compared to Coconino County, which ranked first in the state for healthy behaviors, Navajo County came in 10th, with Apache County coming in at 11th. When it comes to a healthy environment, Navajo County ranked ninth in the state, while Coconino ranked second and Apache County ranked 15th.
Some of the factors that affected the outcome for Navajo County included high unemployment, lack of recreational facilities and limited access to healthy foods.
The purpose of the study is to provide a tool for local and state government health agencies, as well as groups and individuals looking to improve their community. The County Health Rankings and Roadmaps website details the data collected for the study, and also provides information on various organizations and tools to help improve outcomes in the future. The site can be found at http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/.
By Linda Kor