Special Report

The Least Healthy County in Each State

Shannon County, S.D.
> Pct. without health insurance:
17.4%
> Pct. food insecure: 25.6%
> Obesity rate: 42.5%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 12.9%

Nearly one in every five Shannon County residents considered their health to be fair or poor compared with 11.1% of all South Dakotans. The county’s smoking and obesity rates of 43.5% and 42.5%, respectively, were considerably higher than the state’s rates of 18.1% and 29.4%, respectively. The county’s low ranking within the state is a combination of unhealthy habits and poor health outcomes. Shannon County residents lost 25,394 years of potential life annually due to premature death per 100,000 people — almost four times the statewide rate of 6,738 years lost.

Hancock County, Tenn.
> Pct. without health insurance:
17.1%
> Pct. food insecure: 19.5%
> Obesity rate: 29.8%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 12.3%

Almost 40% of Hancock County residents smoked compared with 22.6% statewide, and nearly 40% were physically inactive compared with 30.3% in all of Tennessee. Also, 29.3% of Hancock residents considered their health to be fair or poor, well above both the state and national figures. County residents lost 13,805 years per 100,000 people annually due to premature death, compared with 8,696 in the entire state. The county had just one primary care physician for its 6,679 residents.

ALSO READ: America’s Highest Paying Companies

San Augustine County, Texas
> Pct. without health insurance:
25.1%
> Pct. food insecure: 23.7%
> Obesity rate: 30.3%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 10.1%

San Augustine County had just two primary care physicians for its roughly 8,800 residents. An estimated 16,266 years of life were lost due to premature death annually per 100,000 residents, almost two-and-a-half times the state estimate of 6,650 years lost. Area residents also had much lower incomes than Texas residents as a whole, which may have made adopting healthy lifestyles more difficult. Nearly 24% of households were food insecure, far higher than the percentage of Texas households reporting limited access to adequate food.

Duchesne County, Utah
> Pct. without health insurance:
17.1%
> Pct. food insecure: 13.6%
> Obesity rate: 26.9%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 3.5%

Duchesne County lost an estimated 9,565 years of life per 100,000 people due to premature death annually, contributing to its standing as the least healthy county in Utah. The county’s smoking rate, while lower than the nation’s, was 19.2%, more than twice Utah’s smoking rate. And while the county’s obesity rate matched the nation’s, the 23.1% of Duchesne residents who were physically inactive was much higher than the state’s 16.6% of inactive residents.

ALSO READ: The Happiest (and Most Miserable) Cities in America

Essex County, Vt.
> Pct. without health insurance:
10.5%
> Pct. food insecure: 13.5%
> Obesity rate: 27.4%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 5.8%

While just 10.6% of Vermont residents rated their health to be just in fair or poor condition, that percentage jumped to 17.4% in Essex County, located in the state’s northeast corner. The county’s health choices and outcomes certainly reflect that self-evaluation. There was relatively high percentage of smokers in the county, 25.7% compared with 16.1% statewide. Also, the county’s 27.4% obesity rate topped the state’s 24.2% rate, and the percentage of county residents who were physically inactive of 24.8% was much higher than the 18.4% of physically inactive residents statewide. There were only two primary care physicians to serve the county’s 6,211 residents.