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Spencer among healthiest counties in Ky.

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By Shannon Brock

Even though Spencer County dropped one position from 2012 to 2013, it still ranks among the state’s top five on a list of healthy counties.

According to the 2013 County Health Rankings, Spencer County ranks fifth of Kentucky’s 120 counties. Last year’s report had Spencer as the fourth healthiest county.
According to the rankings, compiled by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Oldham County is considered the state’s healthiest county while Floyd County, in Eastern Kentucky, is the state’s least healthy county.
The report ranks over 3,000 counties from all 50 states on two distinct facets of health: outcomes and factors.
Health outcomes are the primary rankings used to describe overall health. Spencer County ranks fifth, putting it in the top 4.2 percent in the state.
Outcomes include factors such as premature death rates, low birth-weight and how many days during the past 30 that participants surveyed said they felt bad physically or mentally.
Health factors include the percentage of adults who smoke, are obese or drink excessively; and assess a county’s health care landscape: the number of primary-care providers and what percentage of adults are uninsured, for example.
Spencer County rose to 16th in health factors, putting it in the top 13.3 percent in the state. Last year, Spencer County ranked 24th in health factors.
The report indicated that Spencer County has the following factors affecting the health factor score:
• 37 percent of adults are considered obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more (33 percent state wide);
• 16 percent of of the population under 65 is uninsured (18 percent statewide);
• 27 out of 1,000 births are by teen mothers (50 out of 1,000 statewide);
• 59 percent of adults ages 25-44 have some post-secondary education (56 percent statewide); and
• 14 percent of children are living in poverty (27 percent statewide).
Kentucky’s 120 counties are grouped into quartiles, with the healthiest 30 counties making up the first quartile, etc.
Spencer County is surrounded on all sides by counties in the first quartile. Anderson (17), Shelby (3), Jefferson (30), Bullitt (25) and Nelson (23) all rank in the top 30.
Primarily the counties in the bottom quartile are located in Eastern Kentucky.