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A new study indicates that Rutherford County is one of the healthiest in Tennessee.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shares a detailed breakdown by state, county by county and county by county health factors and life expectancy in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute will determine health clbadifications by county.

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The study looks at health factors, which drives health in a community, and health outcomes, how those factors perform in life expectancy, to determine the range.

Data are collected annually on health factors such as child poverty and behavioral elements, such as levels of alcohol and tobacco consumption, exercise, etc., as well as access to care, education and income, social support and quality of the physical environment.


Williamson County ranks first in all metrics.

Rutherford County ranks third in terms of health outcomes and eighth in health factors. This may indicate that Rutherford is somewhat healthier than systems and the environment would support elsewhere.


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Regarding health outcomes, Davidson ranks sixth, Bedford 38th, Coffee 44th and Cannon 58th. The complete clbadifications include all counties throughout the country.

From bottom to top, the less healthy are Grundy, Meigs, Lake, Cocke and Campbell.

"This year's clbadifications are a call to action to see how these health gaps persist at the local level, take an honest look at their root causes and work together to give everyone a fair chance to have a better life healthy, "said Julie Willems Van Dijk, director of county health rankings and roadmaps.

Well, not perfect

Premature death is defined in the study as death before 75 years. The rate of premature death in Rutherford County since 1997 generally reflects national trends.

Overall, Tennessee is well above those averages when adjusted by population.

Over time, Rutherford County is improving, the report shows.

Adult obesity rates are growing in Rutherford County, more than in the state or across the country, as are rates of badually transmitted infections.

The child poverty rate since 2002 has worsened in Ru County of Therford. This clbadification is based on data that vary according to geographic location, measuring the percentage of children under 18 living in poverty.

Poverty status is defined by family size and income, and is measured at the household level, the study shows. If the income of a household is below the poverty line for a household of its size, it is considered to be in poverty.

Trends illustrate the path to improvement

Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of the School of Public Health at East Tennessee State University, said that community input is needed to address the factors identified in the report.

"For those counties unclbadified at the top, my advice is to bring together a section of community leaders to identify what their biggest health challenges are and to begin a process to address those challenges," said Wykoff, who also He is a board member of the Tennessee Public Health Institute.

Richard Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said communities should use the results to address health inequities that lead to widely varying outcomes.

More: New ratings find DeSoto the healthiest county in Mississippi

"We can not be healthy, a prosperous nation," Besser said, "if we continue to leave whole communities and populations behind."

Ron Maxey contributed to this report.

Reach Mariah Timms at [email protected] or 615-278-5164 and on Twitter @MariahTimms.


Dr. Martha Buchanan of the Knox County Health Department speaks at the Knoxville Healthier Neighborhoods Event in Tennessee
Brianna Paciorka / News Sentinel

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