Special Report

The Healthiest County in Every State

41. South Dakota
> Healthiest county:
Lincoln
> Pct. without health insurance: 6.9%
> Pct. food insecure: 8.6%
> Obesity rate: 28.3%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 2.4%

Staying healthy is often quite expensive, and the healthiest counties in the United States are often home to some of the nation’s wealthiest individuals. Lincoln is no exception. The typical household in the area earns $79,857 annually, in stark contrast with the state median household income of $51,059, which is lower than the national figure. Perhaps due in part to the greater access to costly but healthful activities and medical care, only 8.9% of adults report fair or poor health, far lower than both the state and national percentages. On the other hand, while Lincoln’s obesity rate of 28.3% is lower than South Dakota’s obesity rate, it is higher than the national rate of 27.0%.

42. Tennessee
> Healthiest county:
Williamson
> Pct. without health insurance: 8.9%
> Pct. food insecure: 9.4%
> Obesity rate: 27.2%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.5%

Compared to Tennesseans as a whole, who are some of the nation’s least healthy residents, Williamson residents are exceptionally healthy. Due in part to access to health care services and healthy living options, people in Williamson tend to live relatively long lives. For instance, only 8.9% of adults do not have health insurance, and 9.4% of residents do not have access to a reliable food source, each among the lowest such rates in the country. The incidence of preventable death in Williamson, at 196 deaths per 100,000 people, is less than half the state premature death rate and one of the lowest nationwide.

High incomes also help explain the high level of health. The typical household earns $97,936 annually, more than double the state median household income and one of the highest of all U.S. counties.

43. Texas
> Healthiest county:
Collin
> Pct. without health insurance: 16.2%
> Pct. food insecure: 16.7%
> Obesity rate: 25.0%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.5%

Nearly 20% of Texan adults say they are in poor or fair health, higher than the percentage of adults nationwide reporting such low levels of health. In Collin, the state’s healthiest county, only 10.7% assess their health so poorly. Healthy behaviors in the area partly account for the strong self assessments. For example, 11.7% of adults smoke in Collins, lower than the state smoking rate of 14.7%, itself better than the national smoking rate of 17.0%. Financial well-being is also a major contributor to strong health. Statewide, 24.5% of children live in poverty, higher than the national child poverty rate of 22.0%. In Collins, on the other hand, 9.0% of children live in poverty.

44. Utah
> Healthiest county:
Morgan
> Pct. without health insurance: 9.9%
> Pct. food insecure: 11.0%
> Obesity rate: 22.5%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 3.4%

Utah residents are some of the nation’s healthiest residents. Compared to other states, Utah has the lowest smoking rate and the lowest incidence of alcohol impaired deaths, for example. In both of these measures, Morgan residents fare even better. Single-parent households are often more vulnerable to social isolation and other hindrances to well-being. In Utah, 18.6% of households are single-parent households, also the lowest of all states. In Morgan, the percentage is half the state rate, at 9.0%.

While the nation’s healthiest counties are relatively clustered around major metropolitan areas and often relatively urban, 62.8% of Morgan’s population lives in a rural setting, far higher than the state and national percentages.

45. Vermont
> Healthiest county:
Chittenden
> Pct. without health insurance: 7.6%
> Pct. food insecure: 12.5%
> Obesity rate: 20.9%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 3.1%

Just 10% of Vermonters say they are in poor or fair health, the lowest percentage of all states. Of adults living in Chittenden, the state’s healthiest county, an even lower 8.4% assess their health so poorly. Chittenden is home to Burlington. As the state’s largest city, area residents have greater access to employment opportunities as well as health services common in more urban regions. Only 3.1% of Chittenden’s workforce is unemployed, one of the lowest rates of any U.S. county. The ratio of primary care physicians to area residents, at 1 to 558, is also far better than most areas in both the state and nationwide.

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