Buncombe County is the 25th healthiest of North Carolina’s 100 counties, according to national rankings released today. The county also ranks third healthiest in clinical care, sixth in health behaviors, 12th in social and economic factors and 13th in physical environment.
The rankings are the result of the County Health Ranking Initiative‘s effort to produce reports for all 50 states. The initiative is a product of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
While Buncombe ranked fairly well in health behaviors and excellent in clinical care, the physical environment, including access to healthy food, and social and economic factors — which are highly weighted elements in the study — pulled it down to 25th.
In an announcement released by the Buncombe County Department of Health, Director Gibbie Harris cautions that the rankings may not be as good as they seem.
“Being in the healthiest 25% of NC counties is great,” Harris says in the announcement, “but remember that North Carolina is in the least healthy 25% of America on most of our health indicators according to the N.C. Institute of Medicine. We’re not close to being as healthy and productive as we can be.”
Additionally, the announcement notes that the rankings use old data, and might not be as accurate as a health assessment the county is currently conducting.
“These rankings in no way show any impact of the recent recession,” Harris says. “We have many more people unemployed and many more without health insurance compared to when this data was collected.”
— David Forbes, staff writer