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Community health a function of wealth

Gregory Warner Feb 17, 2010

Community health a function of wealth

Gregory Warner Feb 17, 2010


Steve Chiotakis: Question: Are wealthier places really healthier places? A study out today from the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranks counties by overall health and by wealth. We asked Marketplace’s Gregory Warner at our Health Desk at WHYY in Philadelphia to check it out.

Gregory Warner: The Web site ranks counties on health factors like smoking rates, preventable hospitalizations and how long people live.

Patrick Remington is a dean of public health at the University of Wisconsin. He helped write the study.

Patrick Remington: Everybody can compare the health of where they live to the community next door to the other counties within their state.

Fun for the whole family. I asked the professor to look up where I live.

Remington: Philadelphia ranks dead last in health outcomes.

Philadelphia also has the worst socio-economic ranking in the state.

Meanwhile, 25 miles away is the state’s healthiest county. Its commissioner, Terence Farrell, answers my “how are you” like this:

Terence Farrell: I’m healthy, how are you?

Farrell says Chester County is also the state’s wealthiest.

Professor Remington’s research confirms that a community’s health is a function of wealth. Economic status is even more important than access to care. Mostly because poverty is associated with lots of unhealthy behaviors. But if you’re choosing between towns that do have similar income levels:

Remington: Some places make it much easier to live a healthy lifestyle.

Choose the one with the bike path.

In Philadelphia, I’m Gregory Warner for Marketplace.

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