Report ranks health of Wyoming counties, Lincoln County ranks fifth

COURTESY PHOTO

A new report on health across the country reveals how Wyoming's counties stack up against each other.

The report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute ranks Teton County as the healthiest county in Wyoming. Fremont comes in last as the least healthy.

Housing was considered a major factor affecting health outcomes. Across the state, ten percent of households spend more than half their income on housing.

American Indian and Alaskan Native residents overall experience a higher rate of severe housing costs compared to other races. In Fremont County, both Wind River Reservation tribes are experiencing a severe shortage of housing, leading to higher rates of crowding and homelessness.

According to the report, 13 percent of children in Wyoming lived in poverty in 2017, or more than 10,000 kids.

Teton County's strengths include the number of health providers per resident, low rate of physical inactivity, and access to exercise opportunities.

Justin Rivas, an associate researcher at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, said social and economic factors like child poverty and graduation rates contribute to county rankings and can show the disparity between counties.

"In a high ranked county like Teton, a lot of those social and economic factors are ranked as areas of strength. And in an area like Fremont, they are ranked as places to explore or work on improvements," he said.

For instance, the child poverty rate in Teton County is seven percent, compared to Fremont's 22 percent.

The county rankings for health outcomes from most healthy to least are: Teton, Crook, Weston, Sublette, Lincoln, Campbell, Park, Washakie, Niobrara, Johnson, Sheridan, Platte, Albany, Converse, Big Horn, Goshen, Laramie, Sweetwater, Natrona, Uinta, Hot Springs, Carbon, and Fremont.

The report can tell people more about how the place they live affects their health, Rivas said.

The purpose of the report is to identify how healthy residents are and how long they will live, and states that communities should use the findings to support local health improvement.

Rivas said the report includes recommendations and resources for communities to use the data to improve health conditions as well as engage community leaders and residents.

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