The health of Winnebago County’s residents improved compared with the rest of the state in 2016 – by the slightest of margins.
According to the Robert Wood Foundation’s County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Winnebago County’s overall health ranked 87 out of the 102 counties in the state in its 2017 rankings. That’s not good, but it is better than the 2016 ranking (based on 2015 figures) of 88.
The rankings were released this week and in some cases, we are making progress:
- The percentage of adults who smoke was just 17 percent in 2016, down from a high of 25 percent in 2012.
- The number of teen births out of 1,000 dropped to 40. That’s down from 52 in 2012.
- Our uninsured percentage in 2016 fell to 11 percent, down from 15 percent in 2014.
- The county unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in 2016, down from 15.2 percent in 2012 (having a job means better health).
- The child poverty rate ticked down to 23 percent, down from 28 percent in 2013.
Those are the positives. The negatives?
- The obesity rate in 2016 ticked up to 34 percent, its highest level yet. It started at 28 percent in 2011.
- The percentage of people who say they are physically inactive remained at 27 percent in 2016. It hasn’t moved much upward or downward even with increasing awareness paid to the subject.
- In 2016, 19 percent said they drink excessively. This ties the high since the surveys started in 2011. Still, that’s two percentage points below the state level of 21 percent.
- The violent crime rate of 832 per 10,000 people in 2016 was the lowest since 2012, but still nearly twice the state average.
- In 2016, 17 percent still reported severe housing problems. That has ticked upward even in the improving economy.
Overall, a mixed bag and a long ways away from healthy communities. The top ranked county in Illinois was Monroe County, south of St. Louis.
In Monroe County:
- 13 percent of adults smoke.
- 6 percent are uninsured.
- The unemployment rate was 4.4 percent.
- Only 6 percent of children live in poverty.
- Only 9 percent reported severe housing problems.
- Only 42 people out of 10,000 were victims of violent crime.
Those are all good numbers. Monroe’s ranking though shows how deep the obesity epidemic runs. Even in Monroe County, supposedly the healthiest county in Illinois, the obesity rate was 33 percent.