HOWLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Mahoning and Trumbull counties are two of the unhealthiest counties in the state of Ohio, according to a study by the Healthy Policy Institute of Ohio.
Out of Ohio’s 88 counties, Trumbull County ranked 65th in Health Outcomes (length and quality of life) and 72nd in a review of Health Factors, including health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.
Mahoning County ranked 75th in Health Outcomes and 62nd in Health Factors.
The low rankings come despite many health programs locally and were part of a discussion Monday at the Building Healthier Communities Conference. The idea of the conference was to learn where disparities exist locally and what issues are causing them.
It was organized by the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, William Swanston Charitable Fund, the Western Reserve Health Foundation and the Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation.
Youngstown Health Commissioner Erin Bishop said many neighborhoods need better access to healthy foods and clinical care. That lack of access may lead to poor health outcomes.
“A lack of grocery stores, fresh fruits and vegetables, some of those things could be what we’re highlighting as problems,” Bishop said.
Ohioans are less healthy than people in most other states. The state ranks 40th in that Health Policy Institute of Ohio study, which examined data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
Statewide, the infant mortality rate is 7.69 percent and 16 percent of households have uncertain access to adequate food.
The study also found that Ohio spends more than most other states on healthcare.
In May, WKBN 27 First News reported on Youngstown being one of only 50 cities to be invited into the Invest Health Initiative to improve the health situation in neighborhoods. Bishop said that is a positive, but the negative factor is that Ohio doesn’t have a coordinated health program taught in schools like other states.
Trumbull County Health Commissioner Frank Migliozzi said it is a problem that will require teamwork.
“It’s not gonna be just try to change one’s beliefs and habits, it’s going to take policy and environmental change as well,” he said.
According to the study, Mahoning County does rank 13th in the state for clinical care, meaning it has a good number of primary care physicians, dentists and mental health providers.
Pike and Adams counties are Ohio’s unhealthiest counties. Delaware and Geauga are the healthiest, according to the study.