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story.lead_photo.caption Patients pass through the entrance Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, at Community Clinic in Rogers. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/FILE PHOTO)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Northwest Arkansas remains the healthiest part of the state, according to an annual report released this week.

Benton County ranked No. 1 in the state for both health outcomes and factors, the same spot it held last year. Washington County moved from No. 2 in 2019 to No. 3 this year in health outcomes and from No. 5 to No. 4 in health factors.

The County Health Rankings report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation includes rankings in those two categories. Health outcomes takes into account statistics such as the rate of premature death and the percentage of the population in poor health. Health factors are broken into categories including behaviors such as smoking and physical inactivity; clinical care that includes the number of health care providers; social and economic factors; and physical environment such as severe housing problems and air pollution.

Rankings were determined before the covid-19 outbreak in the United States.

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This is the 11th year for the report, and Aliana Havrilla of County Health Rankings and Roadmaps said it's normal to see counties fluctuate ranks. Saline County moved into the No. 2 spot for best health outcomes this year.

Benton and Washington counties likely continue to be among the healthiest counties in Arkansas because of factors such as more access to exercise opportunities and clinical care, Havrilla said.

About 16% of Benton County residents and 20% of Washington County residents were in poor or fair health, compared to 28% of residents in Monroe County, which ranked the lowest in Arkansas for health outcomes, according to the report.

About 39% of adults in Monroe County were obese, compared to 29% in Benton County and 30% in Washington County. About 22% of adults in Monroe County smoked, compared to 17% of adults in Benton County and 19% in Washington County, according to the report.

Lower-ranked counties also generally had higher rates of teens who gave birth and fewer primary care physicians, dentists and mental health providers per the population.

NW News on 03/21/2020

Print Headline: Region continues to rank high in health

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