Wichita County Not That Healthy - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Wichita County Not That Healthy

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The University of Wisconsin Population Institute released its 2013 County Health Rankings.

Out of 232 counties in Texas, Wichita County ranks 151 of the unhealthiest counties in the state. In 2013, Wichita County ranked 152.

The study looks at health issues in health districts across the country and compares them to one another. This is the fifth year the study has been published.

Residents Newschannel 6 talked about the results from this year’s study say they are not surprised by the findings.

"A lot of people go out to bars and drink, there's a lot of fast food and restaurants because there's no activities," said Ash Whitener, Wichita Falls resident.

All factors that play into the 2013 county health rankings.

Out of 232 counties in the state of Texas, Wichita County went from 152 to 151.

In other areas like mortality rate it remained the same, 176th in the state. The smoking rate increased from 20 to 21 percent - the obesity rate went from 31 to 33 percent and the physical inactivity rate dropped, from 31 to 29 percent.

All major concerns for Amy Fagan, Assistant Director of Wichita Falls Wichita County Public Health District.

“We really look at these to see if we made improvements or where areas are that we need to continue to approve upon," said Fagan.

Fagan said while the health district takes all studies seriously, this particular one has some limitations.

“The smoking rates were from 2012 so that's a two year lag time data. Our obesity rates are from 2010, so that's a four year lag time data and it’s just because it's so challenging to get overall data for our county."

Fagan also said there are a number of other factors outside of health that plays into a community's well being.

"Whether or not you can pay for that care, whether or not you're employed, whether or not you have a high school education are several different factors that are really important in looking at this overall picture of health," said Fagan.

She said the biggest obstacle is getting the community to understand they play a major part.

"It's important that we know the status of our own health. It's important for individuals to understand that there are the ones that make up these numbers,” said William Reynolds, Wichita Falls resident.

“There's not very much to do. There's stuff to do, but then there's not a lot. People start to get lazy
and sit around. I'm guilty. I'm one of those people that sit around and don't do very much,” said William Reynolds, Wichita Falls resident.

Health officials said they are continuing to make improvements.

The Wichita Falls Public Health District says through funding of a Transforming Texas grant they are getting ready to install bike racks and put in a fix-it stations for the Circle Trail. They are also looking into developing a website for health resources and are in the process of developing a mobile app that residents in the community can use to find health resources. All are expected to be completed by summer.  

Jimmie Johnson, Newschannel 6