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A new report says Northeast Mississippi generally is healthier than many other parts of the state.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says seven of the state’s 16 healthiest counties are in the region, led by Lafayette, Oktibbeha and Union in the top 10.

Sixteen counties in the region are in the top half of the state’s rankings.

But even the best counties still are well above national averages in almost category ranging from the number of poor health days to the number of uninsured.

According to the fourth annual County Health Rankings released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, DeSoto County has the healthiest residents in Mississippi, while Quitman County residents are the least healthy county in the state.

The Rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

The County Health Rankings rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states. Nationally, the data reveal that unhealthy counties, with childhood poverty rates and other social determinants of health much higher than in healthy counties, have more than twice the rate of premature deaths. The Rankings allow counties to see how they compare to other counties within the state based on a range of factors that influence health, including health behaviors (such as tobacco use, diet, exercise, and alcohol use), access to clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment.

According to the 2013 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Mississippi, starting with most healthy, are DeSoto, Lamar, Lafayette, Rankin, and Madison. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Quitman, Coahoma, Wilkinson, Holmes, and Claiborne.

“We all have a stake in creating a healthier community and no single sector alone can tackle the health challenges in any given community,” said Dr. Mary Currier, State Health Officer for the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). “Community leaders in every county can improve the health of their citizens through policies that make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

The Rankings include a snapshot of each county in Mississippi with a color-coded map of each county’s overall health ranking. There are also new county-level trend graphs detailing change over time for several of the measures, including children in poverty, unemployment, and quality of care. The statistics come from national reputable sources such as the FBI, CDC, Medicare, and the Census Bureau.

For more information on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org. Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.

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