Editorial: Rowan still lags in health ratings

  • Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 10:06 a.m.
    UPDATED: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 10:22 a.m.

Thank goodness the Salisbury Rowan Farmers Market has found a new home for the summer and will open on schedule come April 20. The community needs to make healthy food available to more of its residents.

That’s one conclusion you can draw from a study that puts Rowan County in the bottom third of the state in terms of residents’ health. The ranking — compiled by researchers at the University of Wisconsin — uses data from federal and state sources to evaluate counties nationwide in several areas, including smoking, obesity, health-care availability, mortality, morbidity, education and income levels. Rowan ranks 68th among the state’s 100 counties. Some of its neighbors do much better. Iredell ranks 21st, Cabarrus 10th and Davie 8th. (Wake topped the rankings; Columbus County was at the bottom.)

Some notable areas where Rowan does worse than the state:

• 25 percent of its adults smoke, compared to 21 percent statewide

• 32 percent of adults are obese, compared to 29 percent statewide

• 30 percent of residents are physically inactive, compared to 25 percent statewide

• 21 percent of Rowan residents lack health insurance, compared to 19 percent statewide

• 29 percent of Rowan children live in poverty, compared to 25 percent statewide.

• 51 percent of Rowan children are eligible for free lunches at school, compared to 43 percent statewide

• Rowan residents have less access to primary care physicians, with a resident-to-doctor ratio of 2,562:1, compared to 1,480:1 statewide.

• Rowan teens have a higher birth rate (54 per 1,000 teens) than the state as a whole (46 births per 1,000).

For local health and education officials, Rowan’s ranking will come as no surprise. Previous assessments have identified these and other community health issues. Concerns about county health trends led to formation of the Healthy Rowan! Task Force, which continues to promote awareness and intervention programs targeting adults and children. The rankings underscore the importance of that work — and the challenge of bringing about positive change. While the rankings are largely the result of many individual decisions and actions — or inactions — the community as a whole bears the burden of higher health-care costs, heavier demand for public assistance and lost potential. As the task force’s motto notes, “A healthy community is everyone’s business.”

You can find the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report online at:


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