St. Charles County ranks in top 10 for overall health in state survey

[Originally published in the Lindenwood Legacy newspaper, April 11, 2017]

St. Charles County is ranked at the top of Missouri’s “Healthiest County” list for the eighth year in a row.

The county ranked No. 1 in “health factors” and No. 2 in “health outcomes.”

“The study is done annually nationwide, and it looks at different outcomes and environmental factors and many factors that go into encompassing what makes a healthy community,” said Hope Woodson, director of public health for St. Charles County. “We’ve been fortunate that we’ve ranked in the top in the last seven to eight years, and I think it’s important for people to know when they’re looking at those rankings that it’s not just one factor; it’s an accumulation of different factors, organizations, outcomes that all work together to give us that top ranking.”

St. Charles County’s No. 1 ranking in “health factors” comes from top scores in social and economic factors, such as increasing high school graduation rates and low violent crime rates, according to the survey provided by the County Health Rankings and Roadmap.

Woodson said that while most people think of obesity or disease when they hear health factors, some are actually environmental.

“We have lots of walking trails and clean air, clean water available to us,” she said. “There’s a lot of different options for assistance to go and get care. Nutrition availability, education programs, all of that kind of works together to produce good outcomes like long life, longevity — a population that is very mobile and active.”

Other local counties’ rankings for “health factors” include St. Louis County at No. 5, Franklin County at No. 17, Jefferson County at No. 31, Warren County at No. 38 and Lincoln County at No .61.

Woodson said that the county works to continue achieving its status of being a healthy county through a network of organizations that meet and work to “look at the different gaps in the community and try to figure out how we can improve things that may not necessarily be the best.”