Project updates, commentaries, events and news about health across the nation from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps team.

New Research Uses County Level Data to Give Comprehensive Picture of America's Health

Thursday, July 11, 2013

On July 10, new research was released in the journal Population Health Metrics (PHM) exploring US county-level results for life expectancy, obesity and physical activity. On the same day, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published “The State of US Health, 1990-2010: The Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors,” which examined how the United States fared in comparison to more than 30 of its economic peers on a range of diseases and risk factors. 

The findings show that the gap between places with the highest and lowest life expectancy is widening. Additionally, the leading risks for premature death are diet, smoking, and obesity—all things that can be impacted through local interventions. Causes of death such as ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, and SIDS have declined because of the concerted efforts of government investment, public awareness campaigns, political will, and grassroots mobilization.

During a briefing at the National Press Club, Dr. Christopher Murray, lead researcher on these analyses and Director of the Institute for Health to introduce the Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, discussed how important county level data is for creating healthier outcomes and providing local leaders necessary information to develop more targeted strategies, tailored to a community’s specific health challenges.