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Is Escambia Becoming Less Healthy?


Escambia County is a less healthy place this year compared to 2013, and also compared to most of the other counties across Florida.

Escambia County’s overall health outcomes rating dropped from number 55 to 57th among Florida’s 67 counties, in the fifth annual County Health Rankings by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Susan Turner at the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County. The study focuses on community factors that influence health, along with available data.

Escambia County ranked 51st out of 67 for length of life, 59th for quality of life, 39th for health factors, and 47th for health behaviors. The latter includes the 22 percent of residents who still smoke – and the 30 percent of adults who are obese.

Despite relatively high numbers in percentage of smokers, adult obesity and uninsured residents, Santa Rosa ranks 8th among counties in Quality of Life.

When the rankings were released last March, the local Partnership for a Healthy Community responded with a summit on health in EscaRosa. Organizer David Sjoberg says they’ve been working on an action plan since last fall, with an expected late summer release. Along with that, a fifth assessment is scheduled for next year.

But Sjoberg concedes that even the best strategies and plans are just numbers, if individuals aren’t willing to change their behaviors towards healthier lifestyles and activities.

The rankings from Robert Wood Johnson and UW, according to DOH Escambia, are a snapshot of the health of counties across the country. They emphasize that health is not a singular effort, but a combined work in progress across all community partners.