How healthy is your county? Study ranks Leelanau healthiest place to live in Michigan

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Home of Sleeping Bear Dunes, Leelanau County, is the healthiest place to live in Michigan, according to a study by the University of Wisconsin.

The 2013 County Health Rankings by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranks counties against one another in each state. Among 82 Michigan counties, Oakland took spot 22, and Macomb was the 43rd.

Wayne County was ranked as the least-healthiest in the study released March 20.

Angela Russell, University of Wisconsin associate researcher, said the difference in rankings between Leelanau and Wayne was due in part to education and income levels.

Keweenaw County was not ranked, researchers said, because of its small population. The 2010 census says the county has a population of 2,156.

The study was based on six variables: morbidity, health behaviors, clinical care, mortality, a physical environment, and social and economic factors.

A different annual study, called America's Health Rankings, ranked Michigan the 37th healthiest state in 2012. The state's rise in average age and unemployment caused the big drop from Michigan's 2010 ranking as the 28th healthiest state, according to researchers. They said young graduates fled as job availability decreased.

Russell said Flint has made a 10-year place to improve health, and there are "more stories in Michigan (about communities) taking action than any other state."

Amber Myers, health data analyst with the Michigan Department of Community Health, said the study's goal is to make health organizations take actions by highlighting differences in health behavior and longevity, such as smoking, exercise, and heavy drinking.

In 2010, Clare County was ranked last, behind Wayne.

"Clare County has started a lot of good programs, too. They took action right after our 2010 rankings," Russell said.

Clare is now the 75th healthiest county in the state.

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