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Queens gets highest health rank in city

Queens has the smallest number of adult smokers in the city at 14% of the population, according to a new report. AP Photo/Gerry Broome
TimesLedger Newspapers

Queens is New York City’s healthiest county, according to an annual survey of the nation’s more than 3,000 counties.

The County Health Rankings for 2012 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin listed Queens as No. 16 among New York state’s 62 counties.

Manhattan came in at No. 19, Staten Island No. 22, Brooklyn No. 54 and the Bronx No. 62.

Putnam County, just to the north of Westchester County, was rated the healthiest county in the state. Nassau County was No. 6 and Suffolk County was No. 15.

“Queens comes out well in quite a few categories,” said Julie Willens Van Dijk, a University of Wisconsin researcher for the project.

The survey reported that Queens had a citywide low of 4,882 premature deaths in 2010-11, which are those deaths involving people 75 or younger and which are preventable or controllable.

Brooklyn had 6,515 premature deaths, Manhattan 5,005, Staten Island 5,524 and the Bronx 7,987.

Queens had 22 percent of children living in poverty, compared with the Bronx at 42 percent, Brooklyn at 33 percent, Manhattan at 23 percent and Staten Island at 17 percent.

In Queens 22 percent of the adult population is obese, in the Bronx 28 percent, in Manhattan 15 percent, in Brooklyn 25 percent and in Staten Island 28 percent.

As for adult smokers, Queens came in at 14 percent, the Bronx at 19 percent, Brooklyn at 16 percent, Manhattan at 15 percent and Staten Island at 20 percent.

A new feature of the survey this year was fast food outlets. Willens Van Dijk said surveyors so far have taken no stand on fast food environments as they measure the percentage of these restaurants in a county.

“It is informational for residents,” she said. “Something for them to consider in their environments.”

Fast food outlets account for 51 percent of Queens’ restaurants, 48 percent of Staten Island’s and Manhattan’s, 52 percent of Brooklyn’s and 62 percent of Brooklyn’s.

“The rankings are an annual checkup that highlight the healthiest and least healthy counties in every state, as well as those factors that influence health outside the doctor’s office,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The good news is that businesses, health care providers, government, consumers and community leaders are already joining forces in communities across the nation to change some of the gaps that the rankings highlight.”

“Now in its third year, the rankings are increasingly being used by community leaders to help them identify challenges and take action in a variety of ways to improve residents’ health,” she said.

Angela Russell, a researcher for the University of Wisconsin, said those working on the project had found certain characteristics in different sections of the nation:

• Excessive drinking rates are highest in the Northern states.

• Rates of teen births, sexually transmitted infections and children living in poverty are highest across Southern states.

• Unemployment rates are lowest in the Northeastern, Midwest and Central Plains states.

• Motor vehicle crash deaths are lowest in the Northeastern and Upper Midwest states.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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