Special Report

The Healthiest County in Each State

Johnson County, Kan.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 11.7%
> Obesity rate: 23.0%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 4.7%

Strong life evaluations helped Johnson County rank as the healthiest county in Kansas. Only 8.2% of county residents said their quality of life was poor or fair, compared to 16% of Americans nationwide. Additionally, at 17.5 births per 1,000 teenage girls, the county’s teen birth rate was less than half both the national and state rates.

Boone County, Ky.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 11.4%
> Obesity rate: 30.2%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 6.8%

A good education can lead to a healthier life in any number of ways: better employment, higher income, and better health literacy. Ninth graders in Boone County were far more likely to graduate than ninth graders across Kentucky. Also, nearly 71% of 24-44 year old county residents had completed at least some college versus about 58% of state residents in the age group. Healthy habits also likely contributed to healthier area residents. While nearly 26% of Kentucky residents smoked — higher than the national rate — less than 18% of Boone County adults reported a smoking habit.

ALSO READ: Countries That Hate America the Most

St. Tammany Parish, La.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 9.7%
> Obesity rate: 28.8%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 5.1%

Louisiana scored very poorly in many health measures. St. Tammany Parish, while the healthiest in the state, still performed poorly when compared to national averages. Premature death, as measured by years lost annually, was much lower in St. Tammany Parish than in the state but higher than across the nation. Similarly, St. Tammany’s obesity rate of 28.8% was lower than the state’s obesity rate of 34.1%, which was second highest of all states. However, it was still higher than the national obesity rate of 27%. Also, compared to the 75.8% of Louisiana residents who lived close to locations for physical activity, as many as 83.8% of St. Tammany residents did. Still, this was lower than the 85% of Americans who had access to exercise opportunities.

Cumberland County, Maine
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 14.1%
> Obesity rate: 21.5%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 5.3%

Access to primary care physicians helped Cumberland earn the title of Maine’s healthiest county. While there was one physician per 935 residents across the state, in Cumberland County there was one physician per every 641 residents. Additionally, a strong economy likely also contributed to the health of working people. Just 5.3% of the county’s labor force was unemployed compared to 7% across the nation.


Howard County, Md.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 7.9%
> Obesity rate: 23.3%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 4.9%

Nearly all of Howard County residents had access to exercise opportunities compared with 85% of residents nationwide. Additionally, the concentration of primary care physicians per 100,000 residents was twice as high in Howard County than in the state as a whole. Higher incomes can also contribute to better health outcomes. Only 6.7% of children lived in poverty in Howard County, lower than the state’s child poverty rate of 13.9% and significantly lower than the national rate of 22%.