Erie County and Niagara County both moved up one notch in the latest County Health Rankings.
The 2019 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranks Erie County 56th and Niagara County 58th out of the state's 62 counties.
John Craik of the Buffalo-based Population Health Collaborative says the rankings measure chronic diseases that are not going to change easily. He says says the group is taking a transformational approach to changing the health of local residents that includes working with leaders in economic development, education, community development and several other sectors that he says have been kept away from the population health table.
Craik says one way to keep improving the health of residents is by creating walkable communities.
"It drives economic development. Communities that are thriving are communities where people want to live and they want to live there because amenities are nearby. Shopping is nearby, where they worship, where they go to school, where their friends are, where they socialize, it's all nearby and preferably within walking distance," Craik said.
Phil Haberstro of the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo says taking a comprehensive view of the community is the most strategic way to move the needle away from the region's historically poor health outcomes.