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DuPage County again ranked among healthiest counties in Illinois

Wed March 30, 2011

DUPAGE COUNTY-The DuPage County Health Department is pleased to announce that DuPage County has once again been recognized as one of the healthiest counties in Illinois.  The rankings, which were announced on Wednesday, are based on quality of life factors such as length of lives and overall health status, including physical and mental health. 

The rankings-covering counties in all 50 states-were developed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The model has two separate rankings including Health Outcomes (how healthy we are) and Health Factors (how healthy we can be). DuPage County ranked No. 2 in Health Outcomes and No. 1 in Health Factors. The ranking process looks at data that is as up-to-date as possible from educational and governmental sources. Counties are then scored based on comparison to a national standard.

"We are thrilled to receive this ranking, which is a testament to the services and programs we provide at the DuPage County Health Department," said Linda Kurzawa, President of the DuPage County Board of Health. "We will not take these rankings for granted and become complacent, rather we will continue the hard work we've undertaken over these last five years to ensure our residents have access to quality health care."

Kurzawa also noted that among health factors in the rankings, DuPage County's rank for Physical Environment improved dramatically to the top 5 in 2011. This was a result of far fewer air pollution days and an increase in the number of grocery stores and/or farmer's markets throughout the county, giving DuPage residents greater access to healthy foods, which also aligns with the goals of the county's FORWARD (Fighting Obesity Reaching Healthy Weight Among Residents of DuPage) Initiative.

The Health Department has undertaken several county-wide initiatives over the past five years that are having a positive impact on the health of DuPage County.  Programs such as FORWARD (obesity prevention Initiative), Start The Heart (aimed at reducing deaths due to Sudden Cardiac Arrest), and the county's RxBOX Initiative (collecting unwanted medications in a dozen DuPage County locations) are all programs that are factors in DuPage County receiving such a high ranking.

"We have a strong history of working collaboratively throughout our community to identify what our residents health needs are and then working to ensure a safety net is in place to keep them as healthy as possible," said Maureen McHugh, Executive Director of the DuPage County Health Department.

The national County Health Rankings report looks at factors that affect people's health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. Among the many factors they looked at include rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, binge drinking, teenage pregnancy, number of uninsured adults, availability of primary care providers, preventable hospital stays, rates of high school graduation, number of children in poverty, rates of violent crime, access to healthy foods, air pollution levels and access to recreational facilities.

The online report, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org, includes an overview of each county in Illinois with a color-coded map comparing each county's overall health ranking. Researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health or "Health Outcomes" for each county: the rate of people dying before age 75, the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health, the number of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health, and the rate of low birth weight infants.

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DuPage County again ranked among healthiest counties in Illinois