Study ranks Travis as 12th healthiest county in Texas

Zach Lozano

Residents of Travis County, a county known for its running culture, lakes and tobacco-free life environment, received high marks in the state for healthy living.

A recent study by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute ranked the county as the 12th healthiest in Texas, using a variety of statistics to determine the ranking. 

The health rankings were determined by factors such as mortality, poverty, unemployment, physical environments and quality of clinical care. 

“This is a community committed to improving health of citizens,” said Carole Barasch, a spokesperson for the city of Austin. “The city is in partnership with dozens of partners to promote a healthy lifestyle. We work with disease prevention programs and limit access to tobacco, just to name a few.”

Travis County has the highest population among the top 12 and Austin, the largest city in the county, has a complex and diverse population, Barasch said. She said the large population also means there are more people to promote a healthy lifestyle.

“We are doing a good job, but we can always do better,” Barasch said. 

UT, whose student population was included in the study, is also known for its healthy environment.

“UT-Austin was ranked as the seventh healthiest college campus in the U.S.,” said Susan Hochman, assistant director of University Health Services. “The campus promotes healthy resources and is a part of the culture to be active. There is an emphasis on being healthy with initiatives from housing and services that are already available to students, such as the [recreation] center and bike trails.” 

Hochman said UHS monitors health trends on campus to further promote healthy activity among students. Some of the trends looked at include physical activity, mental health, drinking rates, condom usage and level of health.

“When there is an increase in unhealthy behavior, UHS comes up with prevention programs to stop it,” Hochman said. “UT is a big part of Austin and Travis County. By having great healthy services and a smoke-free campus, we can provide a healthy environment to be in, which increases health.” 

“I choose to stay healthy by being conscientious about my food choices and exercising,” psychology sophomore Chris Gonzales said. “Being in an environment where this is encouraged helps me continue this lifestyle and not start unhealthy habits.” 

Printed on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 as: County earns title of 12th healthiest