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Howard named healthiest county in Maryland in annual survey

Howard County has been named the healthiest in Maryland for the fourth straight year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, according to rankings released Wednesday.

Howard topped the 2013 County Health Rankings in the state followed by Montgomery and Frederick counties.

The annual rankings, compiled since 2010, consider health data, including smoking rates, education, and access to healthy food to rank every county in all 50 states.

Howard ranked first in Maryland for clinical care, which measures the ratio of physicians to residents and the percentage of uninsured residents. The county also ranked first in the social and economic factors category, measuring education, unemployment and poverty rates.

It was ranked second in the healthy behaviors category, which considered excessive drinking, smoking rates, amount of physical activity and adult obesity.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said the rankings show that when it comes to staying healthy, Howard knows what works.

"When you set a goal of becoming a model public health community; when you partner with community organizations, faith groups, businesses and others to promote healthy lifestyles; when you provide access to health care, to recreation and to information and resources, you get great results," Ulman said in a statement. "We have much more to do as a county and a state to promote health, but I am thrilled that we are heading in the right direction.”

President and CEO of the Horizon Foundation, Nikki Highsmith Vernick, said the rankings highlight the strength of Howard's community-wide approach for promoting health and wellness.

"While we know we must continue to do more to address ongoing health challenges like obesity and access to care, our county government, health department, school system, hospital, health care providers, employers, residents, and others should be commended for their efforts to make Howard County a model for public health," she said in a statement.

To view the rankings, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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