New data ranking county health across the country shows Lamar County is the third healthiest county in Mississippi.
“The county health rankings show us that good health includes more than just medical care," said Michelle Larkin, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Associate Vice President for programs. “Things like safe places to play, access to healthy food, access to healthcare, housing, a good job, good education, all of those things influence our health and how long we live and well we feel while we’re doing it.”
Out of 82 counties in the state, here's how the Pine Belt counties ranked:
Here's the full list of Mississippi's counties:
Source: County Health Rankings and Roadmaps
Larkin said the goal of county health rankings is to bring community leaders from different sectors together to create programs and policies to improve health in a multifaceted way.
“(If) they have high smoking rates, and they want to implement a clean indoor air law or they’re not graduating enough kids from high school, and they want to connect education and health.”
Larkin said rural counties across the country saw a decrease in health rankings.
“This year’s rankings show that health is getting worse in rural counties," she said. "It shows that 1 in 5 rural counties have seen increases in premature deaths over the past decade. For rural counties, to shift the trend in a more positive direction, they need to focus on things like good jobs, healthcare, quality education, access to healthy food and adequate housing.”
Generally, Larkin said health is better in urban areas.
“Compared to rural and suburban counties, urban counties have lower smoking and obesity rates," she said. "They have fewer injury deaths, and they have a greater number of residents who have attended some college.”
Larkin also said this year's study reveals an alarming statistic about adult sleeping patterns.
“This year’s rankings show that 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep," she said. "They don’t get at least seven hours of sleep a night. We know that insufficient sleep is tied to depression. It’s tied to stress, as well as motor vehicle accidents and suicide.”