NJ health rankings: Which Central Jersey county is healthiest, which has the most excessive drinkers?

Melissa Feltmann | Healthier Somerset
March 26, 2019

How well do you know the lifestyles of your fellow Central Jersey residents?

Did you know that 21 percent of Hunterdon County residents are considered obese, while 26 percent of Middlesex County residents are? The state average is 26 percent.

Do you know which county had the most drug overdose deaths? Which county has the highest rate of sexually transmitted disease?

We are all proud of our communities and we are unashamedly boastful that our hometowns are the best place to live in Central Jersey. We believe that we all live in our own Lake Webegon where, in Garrison Keillor’s famous phrase, “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”

Almost every week there is fresh clickbait ranking our towns and communities, cherry-picking a number of seemingly unrelated measurements and dumping them into a number-crunching Cuisinart to produce a statistical smoothie.

MORE: Which NJ counties have the worst health outcomes?

READ: County health rankings: Where you live makes a difference in your health

READ: NJ school report cards: How does yours rank?

Last summer, for example, SmartAsset took eight factors, waved a magical wand and Excel spreadsheet over them and concluded that two Central Jersey counties were among the “happiest counties in America.” Of the 3,007 counties, Hunterdon ranked 18th and Somerset closely followed at 21, a great talking point for politicians and other civic boosters.

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Healthier Somerset: Community Health Improvement Plan Announced

Melissa Feltmann | Healthier Somerset Project Manager
February 26, 2019

Healthier Somerset has announced that the 2019-2021 Somerset County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is now available.

The CHIP is a long-term strategic planning tool that identifies a community’s priority health issues and outlines a recommended action plan to address those needs, based on data collected from a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). The health priority areas identified for Somerset County are access to care, chronic disease, mental health/substance abuse and obesity.

Typically developed every three years, the CHIP is designed to guide community decision-making related to health improvement by providing a vision for the health of the community and a framework for organizations to utilize in developing services and programs to improve the health of the community.

Development of the CHIP was led by Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital-Somerset (RWJUH-S) and RWJBarnabas Health, in collaboration with Healthier Somerset and members of the Strategic Planning and Internal Oversight Committee, a subcommittee of representatives from Healthier Somerset and RWJUH-S staff.

READ: Healthier Somerset improves residents’ well-being

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Healthier Somerset: Tips for a healthier new year

Melissa Feltmann | Healthier Somerset Project Manager
January 28, 2019

The start of each new year represents an opportunity for new beginnings and starting fresh, a chance to focus on opportunities and focus on the year ahead. For many, this means setting New Year’s resolutions to relinquish bad habits and start focusing on achieving more positive ones.

From eating healthier to exercising and losing weight, the most common resolutions involve personal health.

According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the prevalence of obesity in the United States was 39.8 percent and affected about 93.3 million adults in 2015-2016. Closer to home, as outlined in the 2018 Somerset County Community Health Needs Assessment, 61.9 percent of Somerset County residents are overweight or obese — with the percent of Somerset County residents reporting no leisure time activity between 2015-2016 trending upward from 15.8 percent in 2014 to 23.6 percent in 2016.

READ: Healthier Somerset improves residents’ well-being

READ: Healthier Somerset: Access to transportation options crucial to healthy living

Given these high rates of obesity on both a national and local level, it is not surprising that focusing on one’s health becomes a priority at the start of each year. Factors contributing to being overweight or obese can include lack of regular physical activity, a poor diet and unhealthy eating habits — all behaviors that can be modified.

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Healthier Somerset Improves Residents’ Well-Being

Melissa Feltmann | Healthier Somerset Project Manager
December 21, 2018

Since 2010, Healthier Somerset has been working to improve the health and well-being of all who live and work in Somerset County. Today, more than 50 members strong, it is the only health collation in New Jersey to link public policy and economic development to health.

As our eighth-year closes, we are proud to share that in 2018 Healthier Somerset:

  • Engaged members and the community about our programming through communications, marketing and social media
  • Celebrated “Healthier Somerset Month” in October
  • Increased membership by 13 percent
  • Advocated for including Health in All Policies by engaging with elected and appointed officials on municipal, county and state issues
  • Focused on healthy schools by holding a Somerset County School Security Forum attended by 50 Schools and Healthier Somerset Representatives, surveying Somerset County schools on security and mental health services, and conducting Mental Health First Aid and Trauma Informed trainings in Bound Brook High School
  • Aligned health policy with economic development in Somerset County through the adoption of Complete Streets in South Bound Brook, increase in Smoke-Free Parks and Farmers Markets

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Tips for Keeping the Holidays Healthy

Melissa Feltmann | Healthier Somerset Project Manager
November 27, 2018

The holiday season is upon us. With all the hustle and bustle that comes with the joy of the season, it is easy to forget about maintain healthy activities. Members of Healthier Somerset offer the following tips to help keep you and your family healthy this holiday season.

  • The Somerset County Department of Health recommends everyone should wash their hands often for 20 seconds. Recent, U.S. Department of Agriculture research found that participants failed to wash their hands properly 97 percent of the time when cooking. Without proper handwashing, well-intentioned cooks, servers and guests can quickly spread bacteria around your meal. Be sure to wash your hands before and after handling raw turkey, especially when seasoning the bird.
  • Bundle up for warmth if you’re going outside and be aware of signs that your body isn’t handling the cold well, such as stiffness in the neck, arms, and legs. Your immune system, skin, balance, and heart may be at risk.
  • Get a flu shot if you haven’t gotten one already. The best way to protect against influenza is to get a flu vaccine every flu season. Share the love, not the germs!
  • Fasten seat belts. Always use them, no matter how short the trip.
  • Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let others drink and drive.
  • To keep in mind the needs of your guests, when cooking for a large group,
  • Some of your guests may have food allergies or dietary restrictions; some may be at higher risk for food-borne illness because they may be transplant recipients, cancer patients or diabetics. Pregnant women and seniors are also at higher risk.
  • Although the holiday season is filled with lots of love and fun; it can also be a pretty expensive and stressful time of the year. It’s important to practice self-care and find fun, free activities that you can do with your family.

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