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Health study shows heavier McLean County residents

Wed, 20 Mar 2013 17:17:11 CDT
By: Charlie Schlenker

Mclean County remains among the top third healthiest counties in Illinois. Last year, the County was 18th. This year it's 33rd. But, Health Department Director Walt Howe says the decline in ranking is deceiving.

"There isn't a drastic change in terms of premature death or years of potential life lost before age 75 in the county as a whole. So, our data hasn't really changed much."

Howe says the decline appears to be from other counties improving early mortality rather than McLean County getting worse. The study out from the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation looks at everything from diabetes, child poverty, baby birthweights, and smoking rates, to the number of physicians in a county. The study does show nearly a third of McLean County adults are obese. That's above the state and national averages. Surprisingly, it also shows slightly lower than average numbers of adults are physically inactive, though the trend is unfavorable. Howe says the trends match with some of the things the county is doing to address mortality causes.

"We have the new 'We Choose' health program that's aligned to deal with obesity and to have community wellness programs along with making sure we have good nutrition programs and other type of preventive programs."

15% of McLean County adults are excessive drinkers according to the study. That's below the state average, but more than twice the national rate. McLean County also has a relatively high rate of sexually transmitted diseases compared to national standards. The numbers are taken from a three year rolling average of data. Peoria County ranks much lower for overall health at 66th.

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