Recent study ranks Polk Co. as unhealthiest county in Texas

POLK COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A recent study ranked an East Texas county as the unhealthiest county in the state.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation collected data on key health factors for 232 counties in Texas and Polk County is ranked dead last.

This new study says the majority of East Texas counties are unhealthy.

Nearly all the counties in Deep East Texas are in the bottom 50 percent of the state and for Polk county the news is not good, the county is listed as the unhealthiest county in Texas.

The rank comes from data gathered from factors like mortality and morbidity rate, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and the physical environment.

One of the most shocking numbers is the number of premature deaths in Polk County.  The report details 13,503 years of potential life are lost by the age 75 per 100,000 people.

The number is more than two times the national and state rates.

Another key factor is the 26 percent of the adult Polk County population who have smoked equal to or greater than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and who still smoke every day.

And Memorial Health, Director of clinical nutrition, Tim Scallon says quitting smoking would greatly improve Polk county's health ranking.

"We get this much out of quitting smoking and we get this much out of eating and moving around so smoking is really a bad thing and it's really something that adversely affects our health," said Scallon.

Polk Countians are also very inactive, according to the study, 31 percent of adults 20 and over report zero physical activity on a daily basis.

Scallon says 2.5 hours of moving around per week would change that ranking as well.

"A standard recommendation on activity would be 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week," said Scallon.

But health related factors aren't the only reason why Polk county is ranked last, the study says the motor vehicle death rate for Polk is 42 per 100,000 people more than 4 times the national average.

Crash data from the Texas Department of Public Safety says there were 12 fatal crashes in Polk county in 2012 and there have been 8 so far this year.

The report also details that there are 235 violent crimes per 100,000 population.

Also, 33 percent of Polk County children live in poverty while 47 percent of children live in single-parent homes, both statistics are double the national average.

Other East Texas counties ranked poorly like: Zavalla:116, Nacogdoches:167, Rusk:171, Cherokee:181, Trinity:188, Angelina:189, Sabine:187, Houston:191, Jasper:214, Shelby:230 and San Augustine:231.

Check out the full report and more details on how the data was collected here.

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