Minnetonka Patch (03.21.13)
On March 20, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Wisconsin Population Health Institute released data indicating that Hennepin County, Minn., residents die earlier and get STDs more frequently than people in most of Minnesota’s other counties. The County Health Rankings study rated counties in two categories of “health outcomes” and four categories of “health factors” that influence those outcomes. Regarding health outcomes, Hennepin ranked 55th among the state’s 87 counties. Premature deaths accounted for the majority of the bad news. Hennepin County ranked 40th in mortality; it loses approximately 5,241 years of life before age 75 per 100,000 people, exceeding the state average of 5,126. Hennepin County residents, however, experience fewer problems while they are living. The study ranked the county 74th for frequency of morbidity, or unhealthiness. Hennepin outdid the state in all but one measure of that category.
Overall, Hennepin County did well in the four health factor categories, ranking 25th among 87 counties. The county performed exceptionally well in healthy behaviors, ranking fourth. County residents smoke less, exercise more, experience fewer vehicle crashes, and are less likely to be overweight than are residents in other parts of Minnesota. However, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the county had a chlamydia infection rate more than 1.6 times the state average and nearly five times the national average.
In the social and economic factors category, Hennepin ranked 73rd. The foundation took note of several worrisome areas: the county’s high school graduation rate (66 percent), the rate of children in single-parent households (31 percent), and the violent crime rate (490 crimes per 100,000 people). Hennepin did worse than the state and national average in each of those categories as well as the percentage of children in poverty (18 percent) and the proportion of adults with inadequate emotional or social support (15 percent).