Butler County among state’s poorest in health

Published 2:57 pm Monday, April 11, 2011

Butler County is listed near the bottom of a report released this week ranking the overall health of Alabama’s 67 counties.

According to the report, Butler County ranks 50th overall in the state’s County Health Rankings, released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the health-focused philanthropy Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The rate of premature death in Butler County is nearly double than that in Shelby County, the state’s top-ranked county in overall health, according to the report.

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Researchers compiled the county rankings for all 50 states using a “standard way to measure how healthy people are and how they live,” according to a press release announcing the report, billed as a “roadmap to improve health.”

“The Rankings help counties see what is affecting the health of their residents so they can see where they are doing well, where they need to improve, and what steps they need to take as a community to remove barriers to good health,” said Patrick Remington, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Dean for Public Health, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, in the release.

Statistics for Butler County included in the report:

– 22 percent of adults report fair or poor health

– 27 percent of adults reported currently smoking

– 37 percent of adults are considered obese

– 17 percent of adults 18-64 are uninsured

– 50 percent have access to healthy foods

Residents can begin improving Butler County’s overall health standings by focusing on their individual habits, said Ziba Anderson, assistant area administrator for the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“Eating correctly, exercising, keeping better habits — I think that would improve the overall health of our citizens,” Anderson said.

Additional steps such as quitting smoking, regular doctor visits and scheduling routine exams also play key roles in improving health, Anderson said.

The Butler County Health Department will provide one such opportunity June 11 with free prostrate examinations. The exams are free and recommended for men over the age of 40. For more information, call 334-382-3154.

The complete County Health Rankings report can be viewed online at www.countyhealthrankings.org.