Special Report

The Least Healthy County in Each State

Glacier County, Mont.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 19.6%
> Obesity rate: 31.7%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 10.9%

Relatively high levels of risky behavior may have contributed to Glacier County’s rank as the least healthy county in Montana. The percentage of residents who smoked, 35.2%, was almost twice the statewide rate. The county’s obesity rate of 31.7% was higher than the state’s 24.5% rate. And the percentage of residents who were physically inactive — 30.5% — also outpaced the statewide rate. An estimated 14,667 years of life were lost per 100,000 Glacier County resident due to premature death, roughly double the state figure.

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Thurston County, Neb.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 17.1%
> Obesity rate: 40.7%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 7.5%

Over 40% of Thurston County residents were obese, compared with 29.2% in all of Nebraska. In addition, 34.4% of county residents smoked, just under twice the rate in the entire state. Adding to the unhealthy behavior in the county, 31.4% of residents were physically inactive compared with 23.8% statewide. Unhealthy behaviors such as these are often associated with risky sexual behavior, which in turn can increase the likelihood of teen pregnancies. Thurston County’s alarming teen birth rate of 105.1 births per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19 was more than three times the state’s rate of 32.0 births.

Mineral County, Nev.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 17.8%
> Obesity rate: 26.9%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 12.4%

To a large extent, Mineral County’s ranking as the least healthy county in Nevada is the result of relatively unhealthy behavior in the county. About 26.7% of county residents smoked compared with 20.8% statewide; 26.9% of county residents were obese compared with 24.7% statewide; and, a higher percentage of county residents were physically inactive than the statewide proportion. Unhealthy lifestyles among area residents helped lower life expectancy. The estimated 12,736 years of life lost annually per 100,000 people due to premature death was well above both the state and national figures.

Coos County, N.H.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 12.5%
> Obesity rate: 31.3%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 6.4%

Just as strong socioeconomic factors accounted for strong health outcomes across New Hampshire, low incomes help explain Coos County’s worst-place health ranking. About 15.1% of Coos County residents could not afford to see any of the 37 primary care physicians in the county, well more than the percentage statewide. In addition, while 21.3% of children across the state qualified for free school lunch — nearly the lowest percentage — nearly 36% of children in Coos County were eligible.

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Cumberland County, N.J.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 16.2%
> Obesity rate: 33.9%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 12.2%

About one in four Cumberland County residents considered their health either fair or poor, roughly 10 percentage points higher than the state as a whole. At least part of this may have come from residents’ relatively unhealthy habits. The county’s smoking rate of 24.1% was much higher than New Jersey’s 15.6% smoking rate. Similarly, the county’s obesity rate of 33.9% was significantly higher than the statewide rate of 24.4%. And the share of residents who were physically inactive — 29.1% countywide — was higher than the state rate of 24.3%.