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New Castle County tops county health ranking; Kent comes last

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New Castle County ranks the healthiest, and Kent County is the least healthy, according to the annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI).

The national rankings look at a number of social factors related to health, including housing, childhood poverty, overall income, nutrition and other data points.

High housing costs, for example, make it difficult for families to afford other essentials that contribute to good health, such as healthy food, medicine or transportation to work or school. In Delaware, 13 percent of households spend more than half of their income on housing costs.

“Our homes are inextricably tied to our health,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “It’s unacceptable that so many individuals and families face barriers to health because of what they have to spend on housing.

When we look by race-even deeper differences emerge with households headed by Hispanic residents most burdened by severe housing costs at 21 percent, compared to white resident households at 11 percent.

“The focus on the burden of housing costs in this year’s rankings report lends additional support to the growing body of research that shows that the social determinants of health-the conditions in which we live, work, and play-are important determinants for overall health,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director for the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH).

“DPH along with the University of Delaware, Delaware Community Foundation and numerous other partners are working together on the Healthy Communities Delaware initiative,” she added. “We plan to coordinate policies, projects, and investments aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of individuals in low-wealth communities in Delaware, and address the serious problem of health inequity across the Delaware landscape.”

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