Platte County ranked second out of 115 Missouri counties in an assessment that measured important indicators that shape community health.
For the past nine years, every county in the nation received a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation illustrating that where we reside impacts our overall health and well-being.
The information can help residents and county health officials identify areas of strength and pinpoint areas for improvement.
The study looks at many factors that have a direct impact on health, including access to exercise opportunities, living near a grocery store where nutritious dense food is available, and severe housing cost burden.
Although a number of factors are not included in the overall ranking, the results, published in its annual “County Health Rankings & Roadmaps” report, still paint a fairly complete picture of a community’s health.
Overall, Platte County has a lot to celebrate: our percentage of individuals without health insurance is low, graduation rates are high, and 83 percent of the population has adequate access to physical activity.
Health experts know that when people live near green spaces and parks they are more likely to live an active lifestyle.
Platte County ranked second in overall health outcomes, in part, due to length of life (premature deaths) and quality of life ratings. Premature deaths reflect the years of potential life lost before the age of 75. Platte County premature deaths account for 5,600 years of potential life lost.
The study measures premature deaths as opposed to mortality rates to emphasize deaths that could have been prevented. This allows communities to focus their attention on specific causes of concern and prevent premature deaths.
Poverty, violent crime and housing instability put individuals at a higher risk for premature death and illness.
The report also shined light on factors keeping residents from reaching their full potential. Key findings of the report indicate that across the country 11 percent of households spend more than half of their income on housing costs. In Platte County, there are 3,622 households (10 percent) faced with a severe housing cost burden.
“Housing cost burden remains substantially higher among renters than owners, particularly for households with low incomes,” states the 2019 County Health Rankings Key Findings Report. “Severe housing cost burden affects health and is linked to barriers to living long and well.”
Put another way: when families spend more than half of their income on housing, there is more food insecurity, higher child poverty and more residents in fair or poor health.
While a vast majority of housing units in Platte County are owned, the report reveals that 13 percent of households have at least one of 4 housing problems—overcrowding, high housing costs, lack of kitchen facilities, or lack of plumbing facilities.
What’s important to realize is that even though the county received a high ranking, health officials, members of law enforcement and county leaders still have work to do. Last year, there were 25 alcohol-impaired driving deaths in Platte County.
Nationwide, the annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.
Additionally, 19 percent of adults in Platte County report binge or heavy drinking in the past 30 days. Excessive drinking is linked to hypertension, interpersonal violence and suicide.