Olentangy Valley News

Delaware County's kids among healthiest, report says


Delaware County is the 21st fastest-growing county in the U.S., it has earned the No. 5 spot in Forbes magazine's list of the best places to live, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it ranks No. 18 on a list of the wealthiest counties.

On June 11, Delaware County added another achievement to its list: healthiest Ohio county for children.

In a new U.S. News and World Report ranking, Delaware came in at No. 38 on the list of America's 50 healthiest counties for kids. It tied for the spot along with Grafton County, N.H., and New York County, N.Y.

The rankings were based on percent scores in the categories of birth weight, infant death rate, teen birth rate, poverty and injury death rate. The number of uninsured children, air quality, access to physicians and parks, and adult smoking and obesity rates also were taken into consideration.

According to the report, the data was collected for the magazine's recent ranking of children's hospitals, which inspired researchers to rank counties. This is the first time a ranking has been done to asses how environmental factors affect those ages 18 and younger.

The only county in Ohio to make the list, Delaware earned a score of 83 out of a possible 100 for its low rates of babies born at low weights, infant deaths, teen pregnancies, poverty and child injuries that lead to death.

"We're thrilled that there is this evidence to support the fact that we have a healthy county for children," Delaware County Health Commissioner Shelia Hiddelson said.

Hiddelson cited community involvement and county partnerships for the positive ranking.

"It's not one thing, one program, one person or one department that helped us get to this point," she said. "We have many partners we work with throughout the year and we're constantly trying to work with the community as part of our Health in Every Action concept."

The Delaware General Health District's Health in Every Action concept empowers local leaders to ensure their municipalities promote health and wellness. That could mean adding walking or biking trails when drawing up plans for new subdivisions, or passing laws that make it illegal to smoke at local parks and athletic fields where children often play.

The health district also has number of programs that focus entirely on the areas in which the county ranked well on the U.S. News and World Report list. In addition to partnering with local day-care centers to prepare healthful meals, the district also collaborates with local agencies to promote early prenatal care and provide bicycle helmets and car seats.

"Our board has made programs that educate and keep children healthy a priority," Hiddelson said, "but keeping everyone healthy, not just children, is a community effort, and we should all be proud for being recognized."