Queens ranks 20th in NY on healthy county list

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An annual report on the state of health in counties throughout the United States includes many examples of healthy counties next door to not-so-healthy neighbors with Queens and Brooklyn providing a telling contrast.

In the report “How Healthy Is Your County?” by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Queens is rated the city’s healthiest at No. 20 among New York’s 62 counties in healthiness. But Brooklyn is No. 58, only a few notches above the least healthy place in New York City, the Bronx at No. 62.

“To start with, Queens has a lower number of premature deaths — that is, deaths to people under 75 of maladies or conditions that can be controlled,” said Angela Russell, a researcher for the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The Queens figure for premature deaths was 5.072 compared with 6,740 compared for Brooklyn.

“Then Brooklyn’s smoking figure [17 percent of adults] is higher than Queens’ [15 percent] as are the numbers for excessive drinking [15 percent to 13 percent],” Russell said.

Other such figures include Queens’ low premature birth rate at 8.2 percent per 100,000 people and Brooklyn’s at 8.6 percent. Queens reported 510 cases of sexually transmitted infections compared to 662 cases in Brooklyn. Queens’ teen birth rate is 24 percent, while Brooklyn’s is 34 percent. Overall poor or fair health accounts for 20 percent of the adult population in Queens vs. 22 percent in Brooklyn. These rankings compare to 16 percent statewide and 10 percent nationwide.

Some 12 percent of Queens children live in poverty compared to 30 percent in Brooklyn, while single-parent households number 32 percent in Queens compared to 41 percent in Brooklyn.

But more people lack health insurance in Queens (23 percent) than in Brooklyn (20 percent).

As for other New York City counties, the Bronx reported 8,139 premature births, an overall poor health average of 26 percent, and single-parent households total 63 percent but it has among the city’s best access to healthy foods. Unemployment was listed at 12.2 percent.

New York County (Manhattan), listed as the 25th healthiest county in New York state, had a teen birth rate of 32 percent, a total of 666 sexually transmitted infections, 23 percent of children living in poverty and single-parent households at 44 percent.

Richmond County (Staten Island) was listed as the 28th healthiest county. Premature deaths were listed as 5,740, overall poor health was 15 percent, 204 sexually transmitted illnesses were reported, the teen birthrate was 20 percent, single-parent households were at 26 percent and children living in poverty was at 15 percent.

Nassau County was No. 6 and reported a relatively low number (4,483) of premature deaths and a low percentage (13 percent) in overall poor health. A relatively low 21 percent were obese and 17 percent lack health insurance. Single-parent households totaled 19 percent and 6 percent of children were reported living in poverty.

The healthiest county was Putnam County, located just north of Westchester County. With a population of 99,000, Putnam listed 5 percent of children living in poverty and 16 percent single-parent households. The county’s overall poor health total was 9 percent. The county includes Brewster and Cold Spring.

University of Wisconsin researchers said the information in the report is for 2009 with some data from as early as 2005.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-260-4536.

Updated 10:56 am, October 12, 2011
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