How healthy is your county? 2015 rankings released

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The Kansas City metro again has several of the healthiest counties in Missouri and Kansas and also one of the least healthy. The 2015 rankings were released Wednesday morning by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

There are two rankings. One is health outcomes which includes things like premature deaths. The other is health factors which looks at things like smoking, obesity and being uninsured.

In all of Missouri, Platte County is tops for health factors. It's third for outcomes. Nodaway County is first there. In Kansas, Johnson County is number one for factors, but dropped to second for outcomes with Riley County first. Wyandotte is again near or at the bottom.

Angel Aceveldo thinks he knows how Wyandotte can pump up its health ranking.

"We need some more places like this," he said.

Aceveldo comes to a fitness center at Family Health Care on Southwest Boulevard for just $10 a month. The center is one of many efforts in recent years to improve the health of Wyandotte Countians. There are also new bike lanes and improved access to healthier food.

Yet Wyandotte's 2015 health rankings are similar to previous years. It's 94th in Kansas for health outcomes, up slightly this year because premature deaths dropped. But it's last, 101st, for health factors. Smoking, obesity and physical inactivity are still very high.

Tatiana Lin of the Kansas Health Institute says at the root of it all are low levels of education that result in poverty.

"And it takes a long time to really impact those factors. It may take as long as one generation to do so," said Lin.

Fewer than half of Wyandotte County adults have some college education compared to 84 percent in Johnson County. Lin says the lack of education results in poverty that makes it harder to buy nutritious food and have access to safe places to exercise. But she says there's hope for Wyandotte with efforts like the fitness center.

" I anticipate we will see more people taking advantage of those opportunities and exercise and improving their health over time," she said.

Aceveldo said, "I'm happy I made that decision to come over here."

His cholesterol and blood sugar levels have dropped, and he is healthier.

To see how your county ranks, click here.

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