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New County Health Rankings Show Differences in Health and Opportunity by Place and Race []


Princeton, N.J. and Madison, Wis.—For nearly a decade, the County Health Rankings have shown that where we live makes a difference in how well and how long we live. This year, our analysis shows that meaningful health gaps persist not only by place but also by race and ethnicity. These health gaps are largely influenced by differences in opportunities that disproportionately affect people of color, such as access to quality education, jobs, and safe, affordable housing.

This year’s report shows some troubling trends. For example, after nearly a decade of improvement, we are seeing more babies born at low birthweight (8.2% in 2016, a 2% increase from 2014)—low birthweight is a key indicator of quality of life for mothers and babies. A pattern of disparity by race in low birthweight can be seen across the nation, with poor birth outcomes more likely among blacks. Compared to white babies, black babies are twice as likely to be born at low birthweight and about twice as likely to die before their first birthday.

“We can’t be a healthy, thriving nation if we continue to leave entire communities and populations behind,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “Every community should use their County Health Rankings data, work together, and find solutions so that all babies, kids, and adults—regardless of their race or ethnicity—have the same opportunities to be as healthy as possible.”

[For more on this news release, go to]

To read another story on this report, see A New Report Has Some Grim News About American Newborns.

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