Runners make their way along the course in the 2017 Eau Claire Marathon. Access to physical exercise is increasing in Eau Claire County, according to a report ranking health released today.

Eau Claire County ranks 35th among Wisconsin’s 72 counties for residents’ health outcomes but fares much better when assessing factors available to lead healthy lives, according to an annual County Health Rankings report released today. 

Among factors adversely impacting county residents’ health are continued high rates of adult smoking (15 percent), adult obesity (28 percent) and excessive alcohol consumption (25 percent), a report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute shows.

The report also shows a rising number of premature deaths in Eau Claire County, a trend experts say may be related to drug overdoses, a high suicide rate and deaths caused by alcohol consumption. 

In addition, the county has the third-highest income disparity in the state. Studies show people facing monetary challenges often struggle to access health care and live healthy lives.

Eau Claire County fares better, ranking 13th among Wisconsin counties, in terms of health factors in the community enabling better health.

The county’s clinical care ranking has improved to 8th statewide. Relatively low numbers of uninsured residents combined with a large number of health care providers indicate a strong health care system that aids in healthy outcomes.

The county has a low birth rate that continues to drop and the number of people with access to sites where they can exercise has increased, the report states.

Read Thursday’s Leader-Telegram for more about health outcomes in Eau Claire County and others in Wisconsin.