LOUISVILLE COURIER JOURNAL: Louisville makes a big leap in its health and quality of life ranking

Louisville has made significant strides to improve residents' health and quality of life, according to a new health policy ranking released Tuesday.

The city earned a bronze medal from CityHealth, an initiative that ranks the country's 40 largest cities on the number and strength of their policies. It was one of just five cities nationwide to improve its medal status from last year.

In particular, Louisville was recognized for its policies on food safety, healthy food procurement, smoke-free indoor air and high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten. 

"Louisville has taken commendable steps toward giving everyone a fair shot at having a healthy, thriving life," said Shelley Hearne, president of CityHealth. 

CityHealth is an initiative of health care provider Kaiser Permanente and the de Beaumont Foundation, which advocates for improvements to the country's public health system. 

It evaluates the nation's 40 largest cities on nine categories of policies and awards overall medals based on those results. 

By Darcy Costello

Louisville received no medal in five of the nine categories. CityHealth didn't see sufficient city policies relating to affordable housing, areas with high concentrations of alcohol stores, public transportation, earned sick leave or the minimum age for sale of tobacco products. 

The city health department's equity report released last November showed some staggering disparities along lines of race, income and neighborhoods. Leaders who unveiled the comprehensive report said it would be used as a guiding light for policymakers to work to improve those gaps.

CityHealth's assessment, according to a news release, provides the city with opportunities to put policies into place that "help make the city a more vibrant, prosperous place to live."

Sarah Moyer, Louisville's chief health strategist and director of the public health department, wrote in a release that the city will continue to work with community partners to create a culture of health.

"Our vision is a healthy Louisville where everyone thrives," Moyer said. "We know that policy has a tremendous impact on how healthy the people of our city can be."