Montgomery County is the overall fifth in health outcomes Pennsylvania out of 67 – two ahead of Bucks County and three behind Chester County – according to the 2012 County Health Rankings.
It is also second in the state for health factors.
According to a press release from Burness Communications, the rankings are "an annual check-up that highlights the healthiest and least healthy counties in every state, as well as those factors that influence health, outside of the doctor’s office."
The County Health Rankings look at education rates, income levels, access to healthy foods, mortality rates, access to medical care and more.
Rankings are conducted and compiled by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The purpose of the rankings are a guide for community leaders to "identify challenges and take action in a variety of ways to improve residents' health."
According to the release, the rankings consider factors that affect people’s health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.
There were new measures in the 2012 rankings, such as the number of fast food restaurants in a county and the level of physical inactivity.
The county ranks fourth out of 67 on mortality: 5,333 years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 population. The national benchmark is 5,466, and the Pennsylvania outcome is 7,284 years.
There is a trend showing a slight decline in premature death over the past 15 years in Montgomery County; the decline has consistently remained well under the Pennsylvania number in that timeframe.
As far as morbidity goes, 10% of report fair or poor health in the county, which is the national benchmark. The percentage in Pennsylvania overall is 14 percent.
In the past 30 days, Montgomery County reported 2.9 of average physically unhealthy days. This is below the state number of 3.5 days.
In the past 30 days, Montgomery County reported 3.1 mentally unhealthy days, slightly lower than the Pennsylvania average.
The rankings reveal 7.2% of live births in the county have a low birthweight.
Overall, the county ranks 8 out of 67 for morbidity.
The county ranks second out of 67 in health factors, and third in health behaviors.
About 16% of adults in Montgomery County that smoke every day or most days report smoking more than or equal to 100 cigarettes in their lifetime
About a quarter of the population in Montgomery County report a Body Mass Index greater than or equal to 30. This falls in line with the national benchmark and under Pennsylvania results.
About 21 perecnt of adults in the county report little to no leisure time physical activity, which is also the national benchmark.
Montgomery County is full of drinkers. The rankings list 17 percent of the adult population as excessive drinkers. The study looked at binge drinking – more than four or five alcoholic beverages on a single occasion in the past 30 days – or heavy drinking – more than one or two drinks per day on average.
The national benchmark for excessive drinking is 8%.
The motor vehicle crash death rate per 100,000 population in the county is 8, well below national benchmark and Pennsylvania rates.
There are 181 incidents of chlamydia in Montgomery County per 100,000 population, according to the report. The Pennsylvani average incident rate is 346.
The teen birth rate in the county per 1,000 female population for ages 15 to 19 is 15, less than half of the Pennsylvania rate.
Under clinical care, Montgomery County ranks second out of 67.
About 8% of the population in the county under 65 is without health insurance.
The ratio of population in the county to primary care physicians is 519:1. The state ratio is 838:1.
Montgomery County ranks second in the state for social and economic factors.
For instance, 87% of ninth-grade cohorts graduate high school in four years. That number is well above the state percentile.
About 75% of adults aged 25 to 44 have post-secondary education. This number is almost 20 percent above the state percentage.
Only 7.4% of people aged 16 and older in Montgomery County are unemployed and seeking work. This is above the national benchmark of 5.4%, but below the state percentage of 8.7%.
In the county, only 7% of children under 18 are in poverty. Almost a quarter of the county lives in a single-parent household.
The violent crime rate in the county is 203 per 100,000 population. This is almost half the Pennsylvania crime rate.
Where Montgomery County fails is the physical environment assessment.
The county is high for the annual number of unhealthy air quality days due to fine particulate matter. The number of unhealthy air quality days due to ozone is almost double the state number of 8.
The rate of access to recreation facilities in the county is 19 per 100,000 people.
About 3% of the county is low income and does not live near a grocery store, according to the report.
Most surprising: exactly half of all restaurants in Montgomery County are fast food restaurants. The national benchmark is 25%. Pennsylvania has 48%.
Montgomery County is third in fast food restaurants, behind Philadelphia and Allegheny counties.
What's it mean for Montgomery County to be fifth on the list? Well, it ranks up there with counties where people live longer and have a better quality of life, due to low rates of smoking, inactivity, teen births and unemployment, among other things.
The rankings revealed some distinct regional patterns, according to the release:
• Excessive drinking rates are highest in the northern states
• Rates of teen births, sexually transmitted infections, and children in poverty are highest across the 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
You can view all the rankings and compare Montgomery County to other counties in the state here.