New Report Highlights Health Gaps Among Michigan Counties

Removing substantial health differences among Michigan counties could prevent more than 7,800 premature deaths every year, according to a new report released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. In addition, Oakland County is among the healthiest counties in Michigan, ranking ninth out of 82 counties and top among the five largest counties surveyed for health factors, according to the report.

The Oakland County Health Division has multiple programs and services already in place designed to help eliminate premature death. They include tobacco control and prevention, coalitions focused on reducing obesity through healthier and more active lifestyles, substance abuse prevention, and infant mortality prevention.

“Oakland County Health Division is both proactive and aggressive about tackling public health issues,” County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “There’s no doubt that the county’s public health initiatives are improving the overall health and quality of life of our residents.”

The report said that if every county in Michigan did as well as the counties that performed best on important health factors, there could be:

  • 287,000 fewer adult smokers
  • 294,000 fewer adults who are obese
  • 259,000 fewer adults who drink excessively
  • 167,000 fewer people who are uninsured
  • 186,000 fewer children in poverty
  • 34,000 fewer violent crimes

“We are very fortunate here in Oakland County to be among the healthiest counties in Michigan,” said Kathy Forzley, manager/health officer of the Health Division. “Being the second most populous county in Michigan with 1.23 million people, we inevitably see premature deaths even with the programs we have in place. That is why our mission continues to improve the health and quality of life for anyone who visits, lives, or works in Oakland County.”

The report is one of 50 released today. Each identifies significant gaps among counties within every state. Each state report details how well the healthiest counties do; the difference that could be made if every county had the same chance to be healthy; and strategies to close the gaps between the healthiest and least healthy places.

The full report for the state of Michigan can be found at For more information on Health Division programs and services, call the Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 or visit

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

About the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute advances health and well-being for all by developing and evaluating interventions and promoting evidence-based approaches to policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels. The Institute works across the full spectrum of factors that contribute to health. A focal point for health and health care dialogue within the University of Wisconsin-Madison and beyond, and a convener of stakeholders, the Institute promotes an exchange of expertise between those in academia and those in the policy and practice arena. The Institute leads the work on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and manages the RWJF Culture of Health Prize. For more information, visit

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Rochester Media publishes The Community Edge digital newsletter of recently posted articles from Rochester Media, a hyper-local news outlet covering all things in and around Rochester, Rochester Hills, and Oakland Township. Send us you press releases and news happenings to

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