Phillips County has the distinction of being the least healthy of Arkansas' 75 counties. The findings are based on the latest County Health Rankings released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Phillips County has the distinction of being the least healthy of Arkansas’ 75 counties. The findings are based on the latest County Health Rankings released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

“The County Health Rankings give us a county-by-county picture of the public health concerns of our state,” stated Dr. Nate Smith, state health officer and director of the Arkansas Department of Health. “This data allows us to tailor our programs to better serve and protect the health and well-being of all Arkansans, no matter where in the state they live, work and play.”

The rankings, Smith continued, compare the health of almost every county in the U.S. The local-level data permits each state to see if it measures up to other counties on health-related issues such as education, housing, jobs, smoking, access to healthy food and more.

According to the 2016 rankings, the five healthiest counties in Arkansas are Benton, Saline, Washington, Faulkner and Boone counties. The five counties in the poorest health are Phillips, Lafayette, Lee, Desha and Mississippi counties.

For 2016, the rankings looked closer at differences in health between urban, rural, suburban and smaller metro counties. The results show that:

•Rural counties have higher rates of premature deaths. One in five rural counties experienced an increase in premature deaths during the past decade.

•Rural counties have higher rates of smoking obesity, child poverty, teen births and higher number of uninsured adults than their urban county counterparts.

The 2016 rankings also touch on such topics as residential segregation among blacks and whites, drug overdose deaths, insufficient sleep and how they contribute to health.

“The rankings data is only as valuable as the action it inspires and the lives it improves,” said Dr. Bridget Catlin, co-director of the County Health Rankings. “The Rankings are an important springboard for conversations on how to expand opportunity for all to be healthy.”

The County Health Rankings and Roadmaps tools, which include a database of evidence-informed approaches, personalized coaching, and a range of other resources, can help communities in their efforts to improve health.

 The rankings can be found at www.countyhealthrankings. Org.