County health rankings for 2017 show mixed results for Northeast Ohio

Posted at 12:06 PM, Mar 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-30 12:06:43-04

The 2017 "County Health Rankings & Roadmaps" report shows a mixed picture for how healthy residents of Northeast Ohio are.

Ashtabula County ranks near the very bottom of the list, with Geauga near the top.  

Published by the The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI), the rankings measure a number of factors about the overall health of people across the United States.

Factors include:

  • access to healthy foods
  • rates of smoking, obesity, and teen births 
  • tobacco, alcohol and drug use
  • diet and exercise
  • sexual activity
  • employment and education
  • access to healthcare
  • water and air quality 

Here's how Northeast Ohio counties are doing in 2017 (Total Ohio counties ranked: 88):

  • Ashland: 19
  • Ashtabula: 85
  • Carroll: 47
  • Cuyahoga: 65
  • Erie: 57
  • Geauga: 2
  • Holmes: 7 
  • Huron: 38
  • Lake: 23
  • Lorain: 41
  • Medina: 5
  • Portage: 27 
  • Richland: 54
  • Stark: 45
  • Summit: 50
  • Tuscawaras: 36
  • Wayne: 12

MORE: See the full list here

Behind the numbers

Among the factors that place Ashtabula County near the bottom of the rankings are an unemployment rate of 6% (Ohio overall is at about 5%), and a high percentage of children living in poverty: 29%.

The data also points to "severe housing problems," defined as overcrowding, high housing costs, or lack of kitchen or plumbing facilities, at 16% of the county's population. In addition, 22% of adults are smokers and 34% of adults are considered obese.

Compare that to healthier Geauga County, where unemployment is at 4%, and the percent of children living in poverty is 9%. In addition, rates of adult smoking (16%) and obesity (27%) are lower in Geauga.

In addition, the number of people who die before age 75 in Ashtabula is more than twice that of Geauga: 9,300 per 100,000 compared to 4,500 per 100,000.

Although not included in the rankings, the contrast between the counties is telling: Geauga County saw 38 drug overdose deaths (per 100,000 deaths) while Ashtabula County saw 74.

RELATED: See how Ohio Counties rank according to drug overdose deaths