- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A new report once again ranks Rockingham County as New Hampshire’s healthiest, while Coos County remains at the bottom of the list.

The fifth annual report released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute rates counties in two categories - health outcomes and health factors.

The health outcome category refers to how healthy people feel and how long they live, while the health factors category estimates the future health of counties based on peoples’ behavior, the available health care, a county’s physical environment and socio-economic factors.

The same two counties - Rockingham and Coos - are at the top and bottom of both lists, but the other eight counties hold different spots depending on the category. Merrimack County, for example, ranks fourth in health outcomes but second in health factors. Grafton County ranks second in health outcomes but third in health factors.

State public health director Dr. Jose Montero said the report highlights that where people live can directly impact their health.

“We know the specific factors that can shorten someone’s life, such as smoking and poor diet, but we often fail to realize the other factors that can contribute to our longevity, such as access to and the quality of health care, how walkable neighborhoods are, how clean our air and water are, and how safe the community is where we live,” he said.

Montero said multiple efforts are underway to address the state’s public health challenges. Last year, organizations around the state helped create a state health improvement plan that identifies 10 priority areas along with targets for health outcomes, and advisory councils on public health were created in each region.

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Online:

https://www.countyhealthrankings.org

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