Some good news came this week for area residents, from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin.
For the past couple of years, the two have done comparative studies of county-wide health factors in communities across the state. In Minnesota, Brown County ranks 17th in health outcomes among the state's 87 counties. Nicollet and Sibley counties are right behind at 18 and 19.
Health Outcomes includes factors like the rate of people dying before the age of 75, the percentage of people who report being in fair or poor health, and the rate of low birth weight infants.
Brown County could do even better. We only rank 27th in health factors, which includes our healthy and unhealthy behaviors, smoking, obesity, and so on. Brown County residents could lose a few pounds, be more active and eat a healthier diet, the study shows.
We can all thank our local health care providers, and the work of some dedicated people with the Heart of New Ulm for some of the good news. HONU has got a lot of people up and exercising, and watching their diets, or if not, they are least aware of their bad habits, which is the first step to changing them.
It is a fact that the condition of our health is not up to the doctors and nurses, or the health care system, or the pharmaceutical companies. It is up to us, and it is nice to have a reminder like this, during National Public Health Week, to keep us motivated.