The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute has released the annual update of its County Health Rankings featuring information on more than 30 factors which influence health. The new rankings can be accessed at https://www.countyhealthrankings.org
Released every year by the UWPHI, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rankings show that where you live influences how well and how long you live. An easy-to-use snapshot, the Rankings compare the health of all counties within states and call attention to the differences in opportunity to live long and well from one county to the next.
In addition to the county-level data, the Rankings also features What Works for Health, a database of more than 400 evidence-informed strategies to support local changemakers as they take steps toward expanding opportunities. Each strategy is rated for its evidence of effectiveness and likely impact on health disparities. The Take Action Center also provides valuable guidance for communities who want to move with data to action.
Participants at the 2021 National 4-H Summit for Healthy Living learned how one’s zip code can predict one’s life expectancy from Katrina Badger, program officer for “Healthy Communities” for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Badger used Richmond, Virginia as an example of a city where life expectancy from one area of the city to another can differ up to 20 years, leading to a discussion of the social determinants of health. Watch Badger’s remarks below and see if the data for a city near you can be found here.
RWJF is America’s largest health philanthropy foundation.
As the nation faces an unprecedented health crisis, it is more important than ever to have health information at the local level. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 500 Cities is expanding to PLACES, a first-of-its-kind effort to release health information covering the entire United States down to the city, county, and census tract level, including rural areas, small and midsize cities.
The PLACES project includes 27 different health measures, including mental and physical health, access to health insurance and preventive screenings, for every county, city, and census tract in the U.S. The chronic disease measures focus on health outcomes, unhealthy behaviors, and prevention practices that have a substantial impact on how well and long people live. Created by the CDC in 2016 to provide city and census tract-level health data for the 500 largest cities, the 500 Cities project expanded to PLACES, providing data for the entire country with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Health is created in the places where we live, work, learn, and play. Our ability to make healthy choices is dictated by the conditions of those places. Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) change can influence health by changing the conditions within communities– making the healthy choice the easy choice. PSE changes often stretch beyond the benefits of programs to create population level impacts.
Explore the rich set of resources below to help to grow your community’s capacity to understand and advance policy, systems, and environmental change.
Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change Overview
Policies are written statements created and adopted by organizations, agencies, and stakeholders intended to achieve specific health goals. Policy change is a tool used by communities across the country to improve population health by advancing initiatives that can affect the behaviors of entire populations more efficiently than other tools. For example, a policy that places restrictions on unhealthy food and beverage marketing in schools reduces exposure and consumption of unhealthy food in school cafeterias.
System change involves transforming and redesigning the practices and structures within organizations, institutions or networks to promote better health outcomes. System change addresses problems on a fundamental level and often works hand-in-hand with policy change. An example of a systems change is the creation of a Farm-to-School initiative that creates processes to rebuild healthy food systems in school by serving local produce in the cafeteria and instituting food education opportunities in the classroom.
Environmental change involves transforming the economic, social, or physical contexts in the lived-environment that affect health outcomes. Environmental change strategies are often used in conjunction with other strategies to improve population health. An example of an environmental change would be to increase the number of community garden plots on vacant land to grow community engagement and improve food security.