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We can do better than ranking of 37th-healthiest

Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 12:01 am

By making better choices and improving health infrastructure.

Allen County came in at 37th out of 92 in the annual ranking of healthy Indiana counties compiled by the Robert Weed Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Health Institute. The obvious point to make is that at least we weren’t in the bottom three – Blackford, Fayette and Scott were. But we weren’t in the top three, either; Hamilton, Hendricks and Boone were.

So we can do better. We’re up from No. 40 from last year, so perhaps we can shoot for more than a three-place gain next year.

In one sense, of course, such rankings are pointless. Unless there’s something as awful as a radioactive cloud hanging over part of the state, it doesn’t really matter which county you live in. Depending on the genes you were born with and how well you take care of the body they’re in, you’re going to survive about the same amount of time in Lake County as you would in Brown County.

But such a list is a useful reminder, which, heaven knows, we need from time to time, of the things we should pay attention to. The rankings are based on 29 factors that influence health, including smoking, high school graduation rates and physical inactivity. Each personal choice we make might not make that much difference individually, but they can add up to a nice lifespan extension.

The rankings should also be a reminder to communities to make sure the health infrastructure is maintained. Other factors in the evaluation include access to health and exercise facilities, commuting distances and air and water quality. As it happens, the amenities that help us live longer are the same ones that make the time we have more enjoyable.

So, yes, we can do better in Allen County, as individuals and as communities. Let’s.

The most pointless bill

If the “permission to celebrate winter holidays” bill had passed, it would have been the most pointless piece of legislation from the recently-ended General Assembly session. How many teachers really think they need legal backing to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah”?

But that legislation failed, so we’ll give the “most pointless” award to the bill banning minors 16 and under from using a tanning bed, even if they have parental permission. Some say the bill steps on parents’ toes, but some argue it doesn’t go far enough, so even pointlessness can be controversial.

Why pointless? Indiana tanning salon owners say hardly any of their business comes from those 16 and younger. Legislators are micromanaging something that doesn’t need managing.