Barnes County Living Better

Barnes County is among the healthiest counties in North Dakota according to the University of Wisconsin.

The UW’s Population Health Institute recently released its 2012 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report, which found that Barnes Ranks No. 2 in the “Health Outcomes” category, second only to Griggs County. Under “Health Factors,” Barnes was fifth, behind Bowman, Cass, Griggs and Burleigh.

“Health factors - that is like what kind of services to you have, clinic-wise, and public health-wise, and we moved from 16 up to number 5 from 2010 to 2011,” said City-County Health District Board Member Sharon Buhr at the board’s last meeting.

The UW began the project in 2010 to increase public health in communities around the country by focusing on specific factors that are known to affect health, such as behaviors, education, income, insurance, health care and doctor visits.

“In general, we’re doing great here,” said City-County Health Director Theresa Will.

The UW’s rankings showed Barnes reported approximately 9 percent of the population in poor or fair health, compared to 12 percent of the state average; a 17 percent smoking rate compared to 19 percent statewide; 27 percent obesity compared to 30 percent; 19 percent who drink excessively compared to 22 percent state wide, 169 infections from sexually transmitted diseases compared to 305 state.

Barnes residents were also above state averages in having health insurance and screening for diseases.

However North Dakota was over the national average when it came to years of expected life lost to premature death and low birth-weights and was at twice the national average for binge drinking and STD infections.