Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval Falls in Health Ranking; St. Johns County Remains in Top Spot

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval Falls in Health Ranking; St. Johns County Remains in Top Spot

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

Duval County ranks as the 55th healthiest county in Florida according to the eighth County Health Rankings released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Duval's poorest showing ever.

The slide comes despite Mayor Lenny Curry's vow at a rally last April to to make Duval the top-ranked county.

Curry, a fitness advocate, is co-chairing with physician Sunil Joshi "Mission One Million: The 904 in Motion," a campaign by the Duval County Medical Society to encourage Jacksonville residents to shed one million pounds over the next several years.

One factor that might contribute to the decline in Duval County's rating is a drop in the ratio of primary care doctors in the county, said Attica Scott, a community coach with County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.

In 2012, when Duval County ranked 44th in the state, there was one primary care doctor per 952 residents. In these most recent rankings, there is one primary care doctor per 1,150 residents.

Duval County's obesity rate of 31 percent was 5 percent over the state average, as was its rate of alcohol-impaired driving deaths. Its 645 violent crimes is topped only by Miami-Dade's 650, and its rate of sexually transmitted infections is the highest in the state.

Duval County ranked 49th in length of life, 54th in quality of life, 36th in health behaviors, 10th in clinical care, 35th in social and economic factors and 58th in physical environment (which looks at air pollution levels, drinking water violations, housing issues and commute times.)

Education is another important factor affecting the health rankings, Scott said.

"Education is a key to success," she said. "When people know better, they do better."

In Duval County, 77 percent of residents are high school school graduates and 65 percent have some college education.

In St. Johns County, which is Florida's healthiest county for the sixth straight year, 90 percent of residents are high school graduates and 77 percent have some college. St. Johns County ranked third in the state in length of life, first in quality of life, sixth in health behaviors, second in clinical care, first in social and economic factors, and 56th in physical environment. …

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