Special Report

The Healthiest County in Every State

46. Virginia
> Healthiest county:
> Pct. without health insurance: 10.5%
> Pct. food insecure: 8.7%
> Obesity rate: 16.9%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 3.2%

The country’s healthiest areas tend to cluster around major metropolitan areas in general, and the healthiest Americans are especially concentrated around the nation’s capital. Arlington, Virginia’s healthiest county, is in the Washington D.C. metro area, where high incomes, excellent access to services, and relatively healthy behaviors help make the population one of the healthiest in the United States. The typical Arlington household earns $107,143 a year, close to double the national median. Only 10.5% of area residents do not have health insurance, versus the respective state and national uninsured rates of 14.0% and 17.0%. The county’s obesity rate of 16.9% is also substantially lower than it is across the state and the nation, where around 27% of adults are obese.

47. Washington
> Healthiest county:
> Pct. without health insurance: 13.7%
> Pct. food insecure: 13.4%
> Obesity rate: 22.3%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.6%

King County residents, many of whom live in Seattle, are the healthiest in Washington. Access to medical professionals and health services are among several contributors to good health in the area. The ratio of primary care physicians and dentists to the population, at 1 to 839 and 1 to 978 respectively, are each among the best in the country. Nearly all county residents also have access to exercise venues, which partially explains the relatively low rates of physical inactivity.

On the other hand, the county is not especially safe compared to the state. There are 343 violent crimes per 100,000 people annually, lower than the national violent crime rate but still considerably higher than the state rate of 301 incidents per 100,000 people.

48. West Virginia
> Healthiest county:
> Pct. without health insurance: 15.9%
> Pct. food insecure: 11.3%
> Obesity rate: 32.5%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.5%

Jefferson county is part of the Washington D.C. metro area, and many residents benefit from the economic opportunities available in the nation’s capital. However, West Virginians as a whole are some of the nation’s least healthy Americans, and residents of the state’s healthiest county are not especially healthy compared to residents nationwide. For example, with 337 deaths before age 75 per 100,000 people occurring each year, preventable deaths in Jefferson county are far less common than they are across the state but still more common than they are nationwide. Similarly, while the percentage of adults who say they are in fair or poor health of 17.9% is lower than the state’s nation-leading 21.6% of adults, it is still worse than the 14.0% of adults nationwide who assess their health poorly.

49. Wisconsin
> Healthiest county:
> Pct. without health insurance: 6.0%
> Pct. food insecure: 8.7%
> Obesity rate: 27.3%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.3%

The population of Ozaukee, Wisconsin’s healthiest county, is relatively well educated. The high school graduation rate of 94.6% is much higher than the respective state and national rates of 88.0% and 82.0%. While around 66.8% of young working-age adults across the state have completed at least some college, slightly higher than the national rate, 81.7% of young adults in Ozaukee have similar education. A good education often improves job opportunities, but it also often leads to healthier lifestyle choices. In Ozaukee, 12.9% of adults smoke, well below the state and national smoking rates of 16.3% and 17.0%, respectively. Fewer than one in every 10 adults say they are in fair or poor health, also well below the state and national proportions of adults reporting such poor health.

50. Wyoming
> Healthiest county:
> Pct. without health insurance: 19.9%
> Pct. food insecure: 12.1%
> Obesity rate: 12.5%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.8%

As is the case in many of the nation’s healthiest counties, financial stability among Teton residents likely contributes to the good health of the population. Across the state, 13.7% of children live in poverty, nearly the lowest child poverty rate of all states. In Teton, 9.5% of children live in poverty.

Good habits also help Teton residents stay healthy. Only 10.6% of adults report completely sedentary lifestyles, less than half the proportion of adults statewide and nationwide who report absolutely no physical activity. The obesity rate of 12.5% in Teton is exceptionally low even among the country’s healthiest areas. It is in stark contrast to the state and national obesity rates of 26.6% and 27.0%, respectively.

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