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OK health ranking for Otter Tail County

A new report ranking the health of every county in the United States shows wide variations in health status among Minnesota’s 87 counties.

In this area, Becker, Hubbard and Mahnomen counties are in the lowest quartile. Otter Tail County fairs a little better, falling into the second-best quartile. Clay County is in the top 25 percent of Minnesota counties.

Otter Tail County is ranked 36 out of Minnesota’s 87 counties.

Becker County is ranked 67. Mahnomen County is ranked 87, or dead last. Hubbard County is ranked 73. Clay County is ranked 20.

This is the fifth year of County Health Rankings, prepared by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The project ranks counties by overall health using a standard formula to measure the health status and life expectancies of the counties’ residents.

The rankings are available at

Counties are ranked in two categories: health outcomes and health factors (also known as health determinants). Health outcomes include the rate of collective number of years of life lost from people dying before age 75, the percentage of people who report being in fair or poor health and the rate of low birth-weight infants.

Health factors include behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. The rankings, launched in 2010, are designed to compare the health of counties.

According to Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger, research into the factors that create health shows that 40 percent of health is related to social and economic factors, 30 percent is tied to health behaviors, 10 percent to physical environment, 10 percent to genes and biology, and 10 percent to clinical care.

“By reporting on the overall health of people in each county, we can begin to understand how individual health is affected by where people live,” said Ehlinger. “The rankings remind us that we live in communities, and that if our community is healthy, we’re more likely to be healthy ourselves.”

Local health departments in Minnesota already conduct extensive measurements of the health of their communities. The County Health Rankings are an additional tool that highlights the essential role of prevention across Minnesota.

“These rankings can help advance the conversation between communities and local health departments, which are constantly adjusting strategies to meet local needs,” Ehlinger said. “Local public health leadership is one reason why Minnesota consistently ranks among the healthiest states in the nation.”