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Most Chicago Area Counties Among Illinois' Healthiest, But Not Cook

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Cook County came in the middle of the pack in a recent county health ranking for Illinois, but seven other Chicago area counties were among the top 20.

According to an annual report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the healthiest county in Illinois is Monroe County, a small rural county across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

At 59th out of 102, Cook County was the only one of eight Chicago area counties to rank below the top 18 in overall health; Kendall county was No. 2, McHenry was No. 4, DuPage was No. 5, Lake was No. 6, Will was No. 11, Kane was No. 12, and Grundy was No. 18.

While ranking 5th overall, DuPage County was rated 1st in length of life; as well as health behaviors such as having fewer percentages of smokers, obesity, and excessive drinking.

DuPage County Health Department executive director Karen Ayala said there still are pockets of the county where there could be improvements.

"We look at some parts of our community, and we know that the density of fast food restaurants is far greater than access to grocery stores with fresh produce," she said. "We certainly have pockets, and that is one of our five health priorities is to make sure that we kind of raise the water level for all of our residents."

Ayala said the County Health Rankings report examines two main categories.

"Health outcomes – actual things like length of life, and quality of life – and then health factors. Examples of that would be health behaviors, access to clinical care, social-economic factors, education," she said.

There are several reasons DuPage is among the healthy counties in the state, including excellent clinical care, according to Ayala.

"It also is our quality of life, just in general terms. So we have very high rates of post-secondary education graduates, and we have an average annual income that exceeds many of our neighbors," she said.

You can read the full report here.

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