Special Report

The Least Healthy County in Each State

Lowndes County, Ala.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 25.8%
> Obesity rate: 43.7%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 11.9%

Although Lowndes County ranked second lowest in health outcomes and health behaviors among Alabama counties, other factors contributed to its rank as the least healthy county in Alabama. The county’s 43.7% obesity rate was about 10 percentage points higher than the state’s obesity rate. The county had just one primary care physician for its nearly 11,000 residents and no dentists or mental health providers. Nearly 36% of county residents said they were in poor or fair health, far more than the 20.5% of state residents who felt that way, which was itself the fourth highest percentage compared to states.

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Wade Hampton Borough, Alaska
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 24.6%
> Obesity rate: 34.6%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 22.1%

One out of every four Wade Hampton Borough residents said they were in poor or fair health, nearly double the share of Alaskans who felt that way, and supporting Wade Hampton Borough’s ranking as the least healthy area in Alaska. Just over 36% of adults in the county were smokers, much higher that 20.8% rate across the state. Wade Hampton residents had the worst health outcomes of any Alaska borough reviewed. Residents lacked access to any primary care physicians or dentists.

Apache County, Ariz.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 25.7%
> Obesity rate: 31.9%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 19.8%

Apache County residents ranked worst in Arizona for premature death, recording 14,350 years of potential life lost per 100,000 people annually, more than twice the statewide average of 6,714 years. The county’s 31.9% obesity rate was eight percentage points higher than the statewide rate. Two other factors may have contributed to the county’s poor health outcomes. One was the county’s high unemployment rate of 19.8%, which was more than twice the statewide rate of 8.0%. The other was the high child poverty rate of 49.3%, which was nearly double the state rate of 26.6%. About one in five county residents said they were in fair or poor health, more than the 15.6% of all Arizonans.

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Phillips County, Ark.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 29.1%
> Obesity rate: 40.0%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 11.2%

Phillips County residents had access to just one primary care physician for every 2,969 people, compared with one for every 1,562 residents throughout the state. More than 29% of area households were food insecure, far higher than the 19.4% of households across the state, which was itself the second highest compared to all states. There were 1,424 cases of chlamydia per 100,000 residents in the county, more than two-and-a-half times the statewide rate. The teen birthrate in the county was 89.4 per 1,000 females aged 15-19, much higher than the statewide rate of 55.4 births per 1,000 female teens.

Lake County, Calif.
> Pct. without health insurance: 20.6%
> Pct. food insecure: 19.9%
> Obesity rate: 26.5%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 11.9%

About 25% of Lake County adults, nearly twice the statewide rate, were smokers, a major contributing factor to the county’s ranking as worst in the state for health behaviors. Nearly 22% of adults in Lake County were physically inactive in the past month, higher than the statewide share of 16.8%. Also, 26.5% of county residents were obese compared with 22.9% statewide. Lake’s ranking as the state’s least healthy county is relative. While it may have a low ranking compared to the rest of California counties, it compares well with the nation as a whole. For example, while the 86.9% of county residents who had access to exercise opportunities was less than the statewide share of 93.4%, it tops the national percentage of 85.0%.