“County Sin Rate” Rooted in RWJF Study

Here’s an attention-getting way to use statistics to improve public health: Publish a “sin rate,” county by county. You can see where YOUR county ranks on the list of the Seven Deadly Sins (chlamydia rate – lust; adult obesity – sloth).

Of course I went straight to Princeton 08540, which pops up as Mercer County (it’s easy, here). According to the creators, the “sins” are actually the health factors researchers used to assess the health of populations in individual U.S. counties.

Our “Lust” rate is (343 new cases of chlamydia reported per 100,000 population), whereas in Burlington County it is 220.

Our “Wrath” score (violent crime rate) is 493 (per 100,000 people) versus Burlington’s 175.

Our Greed (measured by income inequality with zero representing total equality) is 47 versus 40 for Burlington.

We’re about the same for Pride (high school dropouts) and Envy (unemployment).

Does this statistical illustration make me want to move to Burlington? Naah. I’ll stay put in my neighborhood, which happens to be a couple of miles from where the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation lives. Maybe some of its health wisdom will inspire me to go for a walk (combating sloth) or lose weight (combating gluttony).

After all, our neighborhood does better on the gluttony scale (22 percent adult obesity versus 26 percent for Burlington).

Forum One Communications. has offices in Alexandria, Seattle, and San Francisco. It plainly says that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and its partner, the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, did not fund this effort to prove “that data can be amusing and engaging while promoting good public health policy.”

County Sin Rate was created, they say, “in good fun. We don’t really think your county is greedy or slothful..We relied on public data from CountyHealthRankings.org, but we created our website independently from that initiative and received no funding nor counsel from that project’s sponsors…We alone are responsible for this irreverent riff on their research.”

How did I learn about this. Through a Twitter feed about the Government 2.0 Expo, now underway in DC. Sorry, print. Social Media won this round.

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