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updated: 3/27/2014 5:16 AM

DuPage, Kane counties among healthiest in Illinois

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  • New county health rankings show a return to form for several of the collar counties. After some slippage last year, four local counties rated in the top 15. DuPage County rated particularly well.

      New county health rankings show a return to form for several of the collar counties. After some slippage last year, four local counties rated in the top 15. DuPage County rated particularly well.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

The suburbs are a good place to be if you want to live a long, healthy life, according to the latest set of health rankings for Illinois' 102 counties.

Several collar counties returned to form after experiencing slight dips in the ratings last year.

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DuPage County again ranked the best in the area, but three other counties made the state's top 15.

DuPage ranked No. 3 overall in the state. Only Woodford and Kendall counties scored better overall.

Despite the bronze medal, DuPage rated best for length of life and overall health behaviors of its residents. DuPage also rated tops for the ratio of physicians, dentists and mental health providers per resident.

Karen Ayala, executive director of the DuPage County Health Department, pointed to efforts aimed at enrolling residents into affordable health care programs and a push to end heroin use in the county as initiatives that drive healthy living.

"The health department places a high priority on influencing the factors that affect the health of our residents," Ayala said in a written statement. "The greatest factor, we believe, is the collaborative spirit and commitment by all segments of the health care system to take care of our family, friends and neighbors."

Kane County rose back up to No. 9 on the rankings after falling to 12th last year.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin create the annual rankings.

This year, a few changes in the measures may have helped fuel the resurgence of Kane and the other collar counties that all rose on the list.

Drug use by county residents was factored in for the first time.

So were the numbers of homes with high rental or purchase prices.

The number of residents with commutes longer than 30 minutes also played a role. More time in the car, alone, means less walking and social interaction and more contribution to air pollution.

Access to mental health and the number of preventable, accidental injuries in the local population were also measured for the first time.

Barb Jeffers, executive director of the Kane County Health Department, said she sees a lot of work to do even with a No. 9 ranking.

Access to physicians and dentists in Kane County is well below the average in Illinois counties, according to the rankings.

On the plus side, Kane gained high marks for a relatively low number of smokers and people with sexually transmitted diseases.

"The rankings help us identify factors that are making our residents unhealthy," Jeffers said in a written statement. "With this knowledge, we can take steps to improve the health of our residents."

Other notable performances on the rankings included Lake County at No. 13 overall. McHenry County was right behind at No. 14. Will County ranked 25th in the state. And Cook County rated 75th.

A full ranking of all 102 counties and detailed information about each county's performance is available at countyhealthrankings.org.

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