Unhealthy Hart County

By: Ryan Dearbone Email
By: Ryan Dearbone Email

A health study has one South-Central Kentucky county on the sick list.

The Kentucky Institute of Medicine has named Hart County the third most unhealthy county in the state.

It's the only county not in the Appalachian hills to make the top ten.

So why is Hart County so unhealthy?

We talked to one physician who's been watching the county's health for the last thirty years.

Hart County resident Angie Johnson is stunned that she lives in one of the ten unhealthiest counties in Kentucky.

"I was really, really shocked to hear that," Johnson said.

But for family practitioner, Dr. James Middleton, it's something he's known since he started practicing medicine in the 70s.

"I'm surprised that Hart County is ranked that high. It doesn't surprise me being a poor, rural county that we're ranking high in the state for being unhealthy," Middleton said.

Dr. Middleton added that there are many reasons why Hart County is near the top of the list.

Many of theses issue revolve around the amount of poor people that live in the county.

Most of them can't afford the healthcare that wealthier counties can.

He also points the finger at certain lifestyle choices, which lead to a lack of exercise and a rush to eat junk food.

"Maybe our rural country cooking wasn't the most healthy in the world, but it's a whole lot better than fast food and frozen pizza, cold cereals and potato chips," Middleton said.

He assured Hart County isn't alone, with poor health stretching throughout rural counties in South-Central Kentucky.

Yet only eastern Kentucky gets the attention.

"Our health is just as bad as some of the worst counties in eastern Kentucky," Middleton continued.

The county has only a handful of health care facilities and exercise options for its citizens, so many can't take advantage of them.

While some are starting to come around, Dr. Middleton said it's frustrating that the city's poor health hasn't improved since he began practicing medicine there 30 years ago.

To read the complete list of healthiest and unhealthiest counties in Kentucky, click here.

Also on the web: "Health of Kentucky" report


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