Why Vigo Co. remains one of the unhealthiest in the state

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Unhealthy habits lead to a slight decline for Vigo County in the fifth annual county health rankings.

The nationwide study based at the University of Wisconsin, rates counties all over the country according to health.

“They’re ranking in terms of different health topics. Those health topics can include excessive drinking, obesity, your smoking rates, and they break them down by county,” said Christina Keller, Health Educator at the Vigo County Health Department.

At 66 out of 92 Indiana counties, Vigo County remains one of the unhealthiest. Sullivan remains in the bottom 10 statewide, at 85.

“What they show is not one single thing makes us healthy or unhealthy that it’s a collaborative effort in a lot of the different topics. Smoking rates coincide with our obesity rates, and low birth rates, and our death rates in general,” Keller explained.

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Some of the negative trends that contribute to the decline, in Vigo County 23 percent of adults smoke, 32 percent are obese and 29 percent don’t exercise.

“I wasn’t really surprised. I’ve been in practice in Terre Haute for eleven years. People are their own worse enemy when it comes to taking care of themselves, and the tops on the list are smoking and physical exercise,” stated Dr. Richard Reed, M.D. Family Medicine at MedExpress.

Smoking and lack of exercise are just a few of the unhealthy habits that Reed says can take a turn for the worse.

“It’s a long list, for one heart disease, diabetes. We see a lot of diabetes in town. I think the national average is 10% of the population and it’s more than that here.”

The survey also takes graduation rates, and employment into account but Dr. Reed says those factors aren’t an excuse to be unhealthy.

“I’m not buying that. It doesn’t take anything to go for a walk in the park. It doesn’t cost anything obviously to quit smoking, so these are simple things people can do and it’s cheap.”

Many initiatives are underway including the United Way of the Wabash Valley’s Healthier by 2020, which includes a mobile market that increases access to fresh, healthy food, especially in low-income neighborhoods.

Vigo County’s clean indoor air ordinance is also making a difference in improving citizens’ health, Keller stated.

A Path to Freedom Walking Group will also take place every Saturday at Deming Park starting on April 12th at 10 a.m.

The walking group is for current smokers who are looking for ways to stop smoking, and for people who have successfully quit.

For more information and other county rankings you can visit, www.countyhealthrankings.org

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