Baltimore City unhealthiest while Howard County healthiest

If you live in Howard County you’re among the healthiest people in Maryland, but Baltimore city residents ranked the worst in the state, according to a new report.

Baltimore residents had the poorest health in Maryland when looking at these factors: people who die before age 75, the rate of low birth weights, people who report being in fair health and the number of days people report being in bad health.

The study also looked at health factors such as smoking, obesity, excessive drinking and the availability of primary care physicians.

The rankings, released Tuesday, were compiled by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The groups made a listing of nearly every county in the nation.

Baltimore health officials said that despite the low ranking the city is making progress from previous years, such as a reduction in the number of preventable hospital stays. The city has many initiatives to address health disparities, including tackling it neighborhood by neighborhood.

"What this emphasizzes for us is that the areas that were challenging last year are still challenging this year," said Oxiris Barbot, Commissioner of Health for Baltimore City. "But we seem to be moving in the right direction."

This year's rankings, which are done annually, included new categories such as the number of fast food restaurants and physical activity among residents.

The top five healthiest counties in Maryland were Howard, Montgomery, Queen Anne's, Frederick and Carroll. The counties with the worst health were Baltimore City, Allegany, Dorchester, Somerset and Caroline.

Baltimore City had three times the number of premature deaths than residents in Howard County.

The study looked at more than 3,000 counties andWashington, D.C.and found need for improvement in even the healthiest counties. For instance, the study found that healthier counties were no more likely than unhealthy areas to have lower rates of excessive drinking or obesity.

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