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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Oktibbeha County among state’s healthiest

    In a recent report on the healthiest counties in Mississippi, Oktibbeha County ranked fifth out of 81 counties in two areas: health outcomes and health factors.
    There are four health factor categories representing the health of a county: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment factors. Each of these is based on other categorized factors; for example, the health behaviors factor is based on tobacco use, alcohol use, unsafe sex and diet and exercise. The clinical care factor is based on access to care and the quality of that care.
    The health outcomes category represents how healthy a county is by measuring two things: how long people live (mortality) and how healthy they feel when they are alive (morbidity).
    Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said he is proud of how Starkville measured up in each category compared to other counties in the state.
    “The fact that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – a very credible organization – has labeled Oktibbeha County as one of the five healthiest counties in Mississippi is a strong indicator that this is one of the healthiest communities in the state,” he said. “That is terrific news for Starkville.”
    Wiseman said the city has previously taken major steps to ensure a healthy community.
    “Starkville was the first major city in Mississippi to pass a smoke-free workplaces ordinance,” he said. “Additionally, we are now investing more resources than ever before to accommodate and promote bike and pedestrian transportation.”
    Wiseman said the city is continuing to climb the charts with forward-thinking planning to help make Starkville a healthier city.
    “We currently have a Healthy Hometown committee which will inventory the policies we currently have in place that promote good health and ultimately make recommendations of policies that could be enacted in the future,” he said.
    Wiseman said the fact that Starkville is a college town is a major factor in the rankings, as the education statistics for Starkville are much higher than the state average.
    “That means that we measure well in categories related to education,” he said. “It also stands to reason that we have an educated population that is interested in raising the bar for public health in this community.”
    Senior communication major Hillary Cooks said she agreed with Wiseman that the education level in Starkville had a lot to do with the town’s ranking.
    “Mississippi State students have access to workout facilities like the Sanderson,” she said. “In a college town, there is more education about health and more knowledge about nutrition and ways to be healthful in general.”
    Cook is in a group that has chosen the Healthy Hometown Starkville Committee as a project to develop a public relations campaign for a class. She said Starkville is in the running for a $25,000 grant, sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, to make Starkville the healthiest town in the state.
    One activity they are promoting is “Steps On Saturday.”
    “This program starts on March 13 and will meet every Saturday at 9 a.m. at six different locations,” she said. “You’ll come to a location and pick up a pedometer, sign in, walk and then when you sign out, you will write down how many steps you walked.”
    Cook said the program is sponsored by the Oktibbeha County Hospital and the Wellness Connection.
    “The goal of the program is to encourage the community to be active at least one day a week,” she said.
    Director of the Starkville Wellness Connection Eddie Myles said he was not surprised who Oktibbeha ranked so high, as in a college town many students walk or ride their bikes around campus. The “Steps on Saturday” program he is helping to implement will be focused towards a group of people that otherwise may not choose to exercise outdoors.
    “I think a lot more people will be open to this because someone will be supervising them as they walk – if something happens, they are in a controlled environment with hospital staff there,” he said.
    Myles also said the Wellness center gives presentations to different groups that cannot afford or choose not to go to a gym setting, as well as offer a diabetes support group, indoor swimming classes for elderly and hosting health fairs.

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    Oktibbeha County among state’s healthiest