Middlesex County ranked fifth healthiest county in New Jersey
Rutgers students can now say they reside in one of the healthiest counties in the state, according to a recent study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Middlesex County was ranked fifth healthiest county in New Jersey for the third consecutive year, according to the study.
The study ranked every county in every state, including all of New Jersey’s 21 counties, by examining four types of health factors that affect the entire country, including social and economic factors, health behaviors, clinical care and physical environment, according to the 2015 County Health Rankings Key Findings Report.
A total of 30 factors were considered in the study, such as air and water quality, housing and transit, alcohol and drug use, diet and exercise and sexual activity.
"The County Health Rankings have helped galvanize communities across the nation to improve health," Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told MyCentralJersey.com.
Rutgers students felt the county ranking has a positive reflection on the University and felt honored to live in the area.
“Rutgers students should be proud that the county that they live in is ranked fifth healthiest,” said Hayley Grascia, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
Grascia, a Rutgers competitive cheerleader, felt the University and students could help raise the ranking by living a healthier lifestyle and eating better foods, as well as promoting more physical activities.
“The best way to raise our ranking would be to promote awareness of eating right and trying different physical activities,” Grascia said. “Promoting, rather than forcing it down peoples' throats, gives them the option to participate.”
Derek Shendell, an associate professor in the Rutgers School of Public Health, echoed Grascia’s advice and advocated on behalf of healthier lifestyles.
“I believe faculty, staff and students should lead balanced lives with proper, balanced nutrition, hydration with water and hot beverages … and regular daily exercise.”
Other students suggested the University would benefit from healthier and more convenient food options.
Rutgers should offer a greater variety of healthy meals in the dining halls and work to control drinking on campus, said Elyse Crotty, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
“It would also be helpful if there were a food store within walking distance of College Avenue," Crotty said.
A self-described health advocate, Crotty said she works out multiple times a week and feels working out with friends can be a fun activity for college students.
“Start somewhere,” said Crotty. “Even 20 minutes in the gym one day is better than nothing.”