McDonough County residents rank among the healthiest in West-Central Illinois.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has ranked counties on the health of their residents in each state for the last three years.
McDonough County has improved its ranking in life expectancy and quality of life. The county moved up from seventh to sixth in Illinois this year. The county also moved up in the ranking for factors that contribute to a healthy life from 32nd to 28th in the state. They include the obesity rate, economic conditions and alcohol and tobacco use.
County Health Department Director Lynette Cale says the county has made great strides but there is always room for improvement. It could reduce the rate of obesity. She says the problem will be attacked from several directions.
She says, “Nutrition, fitness and different types of programs to help decrease the rates of obesity, not only in adults but starting it young so the children develop those healthy habits.”
The study shows the county needs to reduce rates of heart disease and respiratory disease.
The department's Community Development Director Amy McCallister says programs are being crafted to meet those needs. One is the 10-week “Lifesmart” plan for women.
She says, “That focuses on nutrition, fitness, tobacco use, violence and that all plays into those county health rankings.”
Cale says those who take part in the department's programs usually integrate what they learn into their daily lives. She says some, such as those who wish to quit smoking, might have to make several attempts to make a permanent change in their lives.
Among West-Central Illinois counties, Schuyler ranked 27th with Hancock 33rd, Warren 48th, and Knox 59th in mortality and quality of life.
The rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.