Delaware County 81st of 92 in Indiana state health rankings

One thing freshmen Tashina Finkton and Crystal Franks worry about these days is getting heart problems as an adult.

"I stay away from fried foods and when I see the shuttle, I'll keep walking to get the exercise," Finkton said.

She said there are things Ball State University could do to improve the overall health of the students.

"If they took away the shuttles during the summer to encourage people to walk more or put more seafood and healthier choices in the dining halls, the campus would be healthier," Finkton said.

To combat the fears of future health problems, Finkton exercises regularly and enrolled herself in dance classes.

A study of every county in the nation also suggests Ball State and Delaware County could improve.

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released the nation's first county-by-county health rankings for all 50 states.

The study, which ranked Delaware County 81st of the 92 Indiana counties, used data on population tobacco use, diet and exercise and environmental quality to determine the findings.

Hamilton County, northeast of Indianapolis, was ranked the healthiest county while Scott County was the unhealthiest.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Judy Monroe attended the study report in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 17, according to a press release.

"I challenge all 92 counties in Indiana to use lessons learned from the H1N1 flu pandemic to take a more system wide approach to addressing specific health outcomes and health factors in their communities and to do so by applying the 10 public health essential services," Monroe said in the press release.

Melissa Dexter, the public information officer for the Indiana Department of Health, said last year's swine flu outbreak didn't influence the counties rankings.

"Because the study used data pulled from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Study, some of the information was a few years old and did not include the H1N1 outbreak," she said.

Julie Sturek, health educator at Ball State, said that some of the factors Delaware County should work to improve were tobacco use and poor exercise.

"We have a very high tobacco use and very poor diet and exercise in Delaware County and it is important to change this if we want to be ranked better," she said. "Being a Midwestern state, however, the weather doesn't present many opportunities to be outside."

Sturek said that if more people took advantage of places that offer outside recreation, such as the Cardinal Greenway and Minnetrista, the ranking would improve.

Finkton said the high prices of organic and healthy foods drives people towards the unhealthier but cheaper products.

"There aren't a lot of encouraging things around Ball State that promote healthy lifestyles," nursing major Andrew Thornton said. "It seems like if you want to eat anything good, half of it is deep fried."

Thornton said he and his roommate use the gyms around campus to keep healthy.
"I try to limit the amount of fried foods that I eat, but it's hard with the choices we're given," he said.

Taking these foods out of the cafeterias is highly unlikely, Finkton said.

"They [the university] make too much money off of these restaurants that serve fried foods," she said.

Franks said that the school should move unhealthy options like candy and chips out from the check-out lines and replace them with healthier options.

Sturek said that improving these rankings is not going to be easy for Delaware County but that every step helps.

"It will take a combined effort on everybody's part to improve these statistics," she said.

Franks said that the school should move unhealthy options like candy and chips out from the check-out lines and replace them with healthier options.

Sturek said that improving these rankings is not going to be easy for Delaware County but that every step helps.

"It will take a combined effort on everybody's part to improve these statistics," she said.

To see the full state results, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org/indiana


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