In Pennsylvania, our counties are listed from one to 67 based on how healthy people are and how long they live. Researchers from the nation's largest health philanthropy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the University of Wisconsin considered about 30 factors, including behaviors such as smoking, economic issues like unemployment, and medical concerns, such as the availability of healthcare.
It ranks Centre County, the second healthiest county in the state. Other counties in our region including Bedford, Huntingdon, and Somerset come in closer to the middle. Blair, at 63, and Cambria, at 64, fall near the bottom of the list.
At Altoona Regional Health System, Senior Vice President for Quality, Dr. David Cowger was surprised at Blair County's low overall rating. He said, "the only two things I think may be contributing to it are the behavioral aspects, lifestyles. We have a fair numberof smokers in our area, which is worrisome, and obesity is a big problem."
Dr. Cowger suggested that Centre County benefited from having a larger number of young residents who are generally healthier, while illness and death are more likely among Blair's larger elderly population.
Still , Dr. Cowger encouraged residents of Blair, Cambria, and other low-ranking counties to take the report as a wake-up call. As he put it, " one thing we can take out of this is to live better. We need to have a better lifestyle, get into good shape, exercise, stop smoking and then trying to get jobs to our area is going to be a big key, I think.
The report does rate Blair County's physical environment as number one in the state, while Centre County comes in at 58. Also Blair's medical care comes in 18th in the state, while Centre's is 66th. You can find information on every county in the state and nation at www.countyrankings.org .