Leelanau named Michigan’s healthiest county

Posted on: April 10, 2012

Owner-broker Chris Stapleton and her husband, Jim, sleep in separate counties – at least, that’s the joke between them since they moved from Leelanau County to their farm straddling the Benzie-Leelanau county line.

According to the recent findings of a University of Wisconsin study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the differences between neighboring counties might be greater than you think and have real health consequences for residents.

The study measured life spans (mortality) within each county and how healthy its residents felt (morbidity) based on various criteria, including factors such as access to health care and recreational facilities.

Leelanau shined above the state’s other counties – and ranked third in the nation – but that doesn’t mean the county was without unhealthy characteristics, such as higher-than-average obesity.

“We look at health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic (factors), and the physical environment,” say researchers writing for the County Health Rankings & Road Map website, countyhealthrankings.org.

The take-home message of the study seems to be that communities have it within their power to change their wellness and their rankings, using the Road Map’s guidelines. Counties with higher rankings might attract people looking for a new place to call home – perhaps, in turn, contributing to a healthier local economy.

“If you have your health, you have everything,” so the old adage goes. Residents working together on areas of concern identified by the study are closer to achieving that end for themselves and their communities.