Special Report

The Least Healthy County in Each State

Rio Arriba County, N.M.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 14.1%
> Obesity rate: 24.6%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 8.3%

Only three states had a higher obesity rate than New Mexico’s 23.5% rate. But Rio Arriba County, the state’s least healthy county, had an even higher obesity rate at 24.6%. Rio Arriba’s other lifestyle measures too were only slightly worse than the state as a whole. The smoking rate of 21.7% in the county compared with the state’s 18.7%, and the physical inactivity rate of 21.6% compared with the state’s 19.8%.

Bronx County, N.Y.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 21.8%
> Obesity rate: 28.0%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 11.8%

Incomes across New York are distributed more unevenly than in any other state, with household incomes in the 80th percentile equal to 5.5 times that of the bottom 20th percentile. In Bronx County, incomes in the 80th percentile were 6.4 times that of the bottom 20th percentile. About 22% of county residents lacked adequate access to food compared with 14% of residents statewide. Nearly 18% of residents could not afford to see a doctor, though there were 677 primary care physicians in the county. There was one doctor for every 2,080 residents in the county compared with one for every 1,210 residents statewide. The county’s HIV prevalence rate was a high 2,084 for every 100,000 residents. This was much higher than the 810 people living with HIV per 100,000 residents in all of New York State.

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Scotland County, N.C.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 26.4%
> Obesity rate: 35.7%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 14.6%

Nearly 28% of Scotland County residents considered their health fair or poor compared with 17.5% of state residents. The high percentage of residents with a poor self-evaluation reflects the low quality of life in Scotland County compared with the state as a whole. In addition, county residents had relatively unhealthy habits. Nearly 25% smoked compared with 20.2% statewide, and 28.0% were physically inactive compared with just under 25% of all North Carolinians.

Rolette County, N.D.
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 16.2%
> Obesity rate: 40.0%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 12.9%

Nearly 23% of the residents in Rolette County, located on North Dakota’s border with Canada, considered their health fair or poor, nearly twice the 11.5% of state residents. The unhealthy habits of county residents may have contributed to that view. Nearly 36% smoked, almost twice the 18.1% statewide smoking rate. And slightly more than one-third of county residents, 33.4%, were physically inactive, which may have contributed to the county’s obesity rate of 40.0% — far higher than the state’s 29.5%.

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Pike County, Ohio
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 18.8%
> Obesity rate: 32.4%
> 2013 unemployment rate: 12.5%

More than one in five Pike County residents considered their health just fair or poor, a higher percentage than in the state or across the nation. A greater percentage of county residents demonstrated unhealthy habits than state residents as a whole, with higher smoking and obesity rates and a higher percentage of residents who were not physically active. In addition to relatively unhealthy habits and poor self evaluations, premature death was all too common in the county. An estimated 10,913 years were lost annually per 100,000 Pike residents due to premature death, far higher than the state and national estimates.