Cannon Ranked 14th Healthiest County In State

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NASHVILLE - The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the County Health Rankings, the first report to rank the overall health of the counties in all 50 states - more than 3,000 total - by using a standard formula to measure how healthy people are and how long they live, it was announced today.

Cannon County is ranked No. 14. By comparison to neighboring counties, Rutherford comes in at No. 3, Wilson No. 6, Bedford 18, Coffee 45, Warren 60 and DeKalb 80.

"The health of a community depends on many factors, including individual behaviors, the quality of health care, education, jobs and the environment," said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. "While rankings like this can assist in seeing where the strengths and weaknesses are in a community, ultimately it takes all of us -- public health, health care, business, education, and government sectors and individuals -- to take steps and create programs and policies that will help people lead healthier lives." 

The online report, available at, includes a snapshot of each county in Tennessee with a color-coded map comparing each county's overall health ranking. Researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health or "health outcomes" for the state by county: the rate of people dying before age 75; the percentage of people who report being in fair or poor health; the number of days people report being in poor physical health; the number of days people report being in poor mental health; and the rate of low-birthweight infants. 

The report then looks at factors that affect people's health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. Among the many health factors included are rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, binge drinking, and teenage pregnancy; the number of uninsured adults, availability of primary care providers, and preventable hospital stays; rates of high school graduation, number of children in poverty, rates of violent crime, access to healthy foods, air pollution levels, and liquor store density. 

"It's important to remember that the health challenges that Tennesseans face can be improved," said Randy Wykoff, MD, MPH, TM, dean of the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University and interim director of the Tennessee Institute of Public Health. "This report provides every county in the state the information that it needs to identify its greatest health challenges and determine which should take immediate priority." 

The County Health Rankings lists the following as Tennessee's top 10 for health outcomes: 

1. Williamson

2. Sumner

3. Rutherford

4. Moore

5. Blount

6. Wilson

7. Franklin

8. Chester

9. Knox

10. Montgomery

14. Cannon

Listed by County Health Rankings as the 10 counties with the poorest health outcomes are as follows:

1. Grundy

2. Fentress

3. Hardeman

4. Benton

5. Lewis

6. Hancock

7. Carroll

8. Cocke

9. Rhea

10. Johnson

"These rankings demonstrate that health happens where we live, learn, work and play. And much of what influences how healthy we are and how long we live happens outside the doctor's office," says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "We hope the County Health Rankings spur all sectors - government, business, community and faith-based groups, education and public health - to work together on solutions that address barriers to good health and help all Americans lead healthier lives." 

"It's easier for people to lead a healthy lifestyle when they live in a healthy community - such as one that has expanded early childhood education, enacted smoke-free laws, increased access to healthier foods, or created more opportunities for physical activity, "said Patrick Remington, MD, MPH, Associate Dean for Public Health, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. "We hope this report can mobilize community leaders to learn what is making their residents unhealthy and take action to invest in programs and policy changes that improve health," he adds. 

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