We're a healthy community

Healthy choices and active lifestyles for Ottawa County residents reflect in a recent ranking of Michigan's counties.
Krystle Wagner
Mar 21, 2013

When it comes to overall well-being, Ottawa County ranks No. 2 out of 82 counties measured in the 2013 County Health Rankings by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Leelanau County in the northwestern Lower Peninsula is No. 1.

Michigan has 83 counties, but the report did not rank Keweenaw County.

To compile the list, the foundation looked at health factors and behaviors including adult smoking; physical obesity; diabetic screening; and physical environment factors such as drinking water safety, limited access to healthy foods and access to recreational facilities.

“It illustrates all the different aspects of our world that impacts our health,” Ottawa County Public Health official Marcia Knol said.

Grand Haven resident and YMCA program instructor Mary Metzler said the county’s healthy ranking is no surprise to her. She said the Tri-Cities area provides residents with plenty to do — walking the boardwalk and dunes, and other outside activities.

“There’s always something to do,” Metzler said.

Some of the 2013 report's findings include 9 percent of Ottawa County adults are in poor to fair health, compared to a 14 percent statewide average and the national benchmark of 10 percent.

The number of children living in a single-parent household is 19 percent in the county, while it's 33 percent in all of Michigan. The national benchmark is 20 percent.

To see the Ottawa County report, CLICK HERE.

Although Ottawa is the second healthiest county in the state, Knol said there’s still room for improvement.

One figure that concerns Knol the most is the county's premature death rate: 4,734 per 100,000 people before the age of 75. The Michigan average is 7,254 per 100,000 and the national benchmark is 5,317 per 100,000.

Knol said it’s something she’s going to keep an eye on because it’s continuing to go in the wrong direction each year.

Another area of concern is the physical environment category, in which Ottawa County ranked 70th. That category factors in drinking water safety, pollution, recreational facilities and a limited access to healthy foods.

Knol said air quality is a troubling issue shared by communities along the Lakeshore, and they plan to look at whether current environmental policies are working, and if buildings support healthy choices and lifestyles.

For Grand Haven resident Monica Klemp-McCrossin, staying active and on the move is important. She was still working out on exercise machines at the Tri-Cities Family YMCA on Wednesday, though she’s a week overdue in her pregnancy.

Klemp-McCrossin said it’s difficult for many people to begin an exercise regime because it is a change in lifestyle and habit.

“Just 20 minutes a day helps you feel better,” she said.

Ottawa County was also No. 2 in the foundation's 2012 and 2010 Michigan county rankings, but it topped the list in 2011.

Leelanau County was also No. 1 in 2012, second to Ottawa in 2011 and third in 2010. Livingston County topped the 2010 rankings.

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