Hill County is, for the most part, fairly average, ranking 28 out of 45 surveyed counties in Montana, in between neighboring counties Blaine and Chouteau, ranked 39 and 21 respectively.
The ranking is the product of a national health-related survey, whose results were published this week by a joint effort from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in New Jersey.
The survey reflects a broad range of “health factors, ” like obesity or smoking habits, broken down into the states’ studies, then further broken into those states’ respective counties.
Among counties in Montana, 45 were surveyed with 11 not reporting, the closest being Liberty County.
The healthiest county, according to the results, is Gallatin County. The unhealthiest county was found to be Roosevelt County.
The results were mixed along the Hi-Line, with most neighboring counties placing in the middle-to-lower half of the list. Looking at the factors that determine the ranking, some are notable, when compared to state and national figures, including excessive alcohol use, obesity, teen pregnancy and access to healthy food.
Hill County placed just below the middle of the list, at number 28.
The survey showed that 24 percent of Hill County adults consume excessive alcohol. “Excessive” is used in the survey as “either binge drinking, defined as consuming more than 4 (women) or 5 (men) alcoholic beverages on a single occasion in the past 30 days, or heavy drinking, defined as drinking more than 1 (women) or 2 (men) drinks per day on average.”
Hill County’s percentage is higher than Montana’s 19 percent, and three-times the national benchmark of 8 percent.
Among Hill County residents, 14 percent have “access to healthy food, ” defined in the survey as being near grocery stores or farmer’s markets.
Forty-one percent of all Montanans have access to healthy food.
The national benchmark is 92 percent.
As far as the rate of teen pregnancy in Hill County, the survey found that 61 out of every 1,000 teenage girls had gotten pregnant.
Hill County was nearly three-times the Montana-wide figure of 22 out of 1,000, but less than twice the national figure of 37 teenagers.
According to the survey, 30 percent of Hill County adults are obese, which is more than both the state rate, 23 percent, and the national benchmark of 25 percent.
Blaine County was near the bottom of the survey’s list, at 39 out of 45.
Excessive alcohol use by Blaine County adults is the same as Hill County’s, 24 percent.
Teen pregnancy was found to be higher than Hill County, with 80 out of every 1,000 teenage girls getting pregnant.
Access to healthy food in Blaine County is better than in Hill County, as 33 percent of their residents are able to eat healthily.
Still, in Blaine County obesity is more prevalent than in Hill County, with 34 percent.
Online: See more county health rankings and statistics at www.countyhealthrankings.org.