Public health officials in Washington County are reacting to the findings of a recent health report. For four consecutive years, the University of Wisconsin ranked Washington County as one of the lowest in the state. This year they are third to last.
Rick Davis, Washington County Health Department Administrator credits Washington County's socioeconomic climate. In addition, heart disease, obesity and diabetes are common conditions among the population.
"There's a real correlation obviously between economic status, education, income and health outcomes. Washington County like a lot of rural counties obviously did not do well," Davis said.
Each year the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranks Florida's 67 counties. The ranking is based on several health outcomes like mortality, clinical care, physical environments and health behaviors. Health officials say this report highlights the very same issues found in a state study, found here.
The study found that a large amount of residents are smokers, fast food restaurants out number healthy options and about a fourth of the population has poor or fair health.
These generational issues are disconcerting to Davis, but says things are looking up for the younger ones. In the last couple of years, more programs have been implemented to curb these problems and so far it's working.
"We have a high rate of smoking in the county, but our teen smoking is dropping. We have a high rate of teen pregnancy, but the teen pregnancy rate has been dropping steadily over the last few years," Davis said.
News 13 reached out to the professionals at the Northwest Florida Community Hospital in Chipley.
In an off camera interview they told me they were shocked at the rankings. The hospital says they've worked on several programs that offer nutrition and smoking cessation assistance.