A report released Wednesday says Beaufort County is the healthiest county in South Carolina and that Lee County is the least healthy.
The study was conducted by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. However, researchers caution people not to make comparisons between states because data collection methods vary by state, says Bridget Booske, project director for the rankings and a senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute.
The rankings are based on five criteria: the rate of people dying before age 75, the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health, the numbers of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health, and the rate of low-birth weight infants.
The report then looks at factors that affect people’s health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. Underlying those categories are data such as rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, binge drinking and teenage pregnancy; the number of uninsured adults, availability of primary care providers, and preventable hospital stays; rates of high school graduation, number of children in poverty; homicide rates, access to healthy foods, air pollution levels and liquor store density.
The data is broken into overall rankings, health outcomes and health factors. According to James Marks, senior vice president and director of the foundation's health group, health outcomes shows where a community is now. The health factors are harbingers — predictors of health, he said.
Take look at the report for yourself. If you dig through it, there are some interesting findings. For example: Beaufort County exceeded the state rate on a few health factors: uninsured adults, binge drinking and chlamydia. It also didn’t fare well with access to healthy foods, based on the per capita number of health-food stores and produce stands.