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County Health Rankings

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

A new study on the health and quality of life in Alabama ranks each of the state's 67 counties.

The healthiest county is Shelby County, followed by Baldwin and Lee counties. The least healthy county is Lowndes County.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Wisconsin population health institute conducted the study.

The state health officer says the survey is interesting, but unfortunately it doesn't say a whole lot about if counties are getting healthier or not.

There's no doubt Alabama has a big problem with diabetes and obesity, but Alabama Department of Health Public Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson says you have to be careful reading too much into this survey for several reasons.

First, he says you have to look at how it was done and the population surveyed.

Dr. Williamson says for this survey, you can't compare it to last year's rankings because different questions were asked and different demographics were used.

For the tri-county area, Montgomery county ranks 21, Autauga county ranks 15 and Elmore county ranks 7. Dr. Williamson says very small changes can have profound effects on those rankings.

But he did point out this survey does reinforce what health officials nationwide have known for years in terms of overall health behaviors.

"Social-economic factors contribute 40 percent of the rankings on health behaviors. Once again, those things like unemployment, poverty, high school graduation rate...measures that suggest the economic status of the community are extremely predictive of how the county is going to rank," Dr. Williamson said.

Dr. Williamson says the results are useful because they validate other information. For example, he says counties that have problems in one set of health outcomes usually have problems in another set of health outcomes.

If you want to see the ranking for your county, click the link below to access county-by-county information.

http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/app/#/Alabama/2013/rankings/outcomes/overall/by-rank

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