Special Report

The Healthiest County in Every State

6. Colorado
> Healthiest county:
Douglas
> Pct. without health insurance: 7.8%
> Pct. food insecure: 10.2%
> Obesity rate: 16.9%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.0%

Wealth is often a primary factor in the health of a population, as higher incomes can provide for healthier food, more opportunities for exercise, and other benefits. In Douglas County, the typical household earns $107,250 a year, the most in Colorado and the fifth most in the United States. Douglas County residents also have the best health outcomes in Colorado and among the best nationwide. Just 7.2% of county adults report fair or poor health, a much smaller share than the 12.1% of adults who do statewide and close to half the 14.0% national share. Similarly, 166.0 residents out every 100,000 die before the age of 75, a much lower incidence than the state rate of 279.4 premature deaths per 100,000 people and the national rate of 330.0 premature deaths per 100,000 people.

7. Connecticut
> Healthiest county:
Middlesex
> Pct. without health insurance: 8.2%
> Pct. food insecure: 11.1%
> Obesity rate: 23.6%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.6%

A longer life is frequently the consequence of good health. In Connecticut, home to some of the nation’s healthiest Americans, 266 lives are lost per 100,000 state residents to preventable deaths each year, the second lowest premature mortality rate of all states. In Middlesex, the annual premature death rate of 256 per 100,000 area residents is even lower.

Like Connecticut, Middlesex residents are financially well-off, which in turn has contributed to a more prosperous, safe, and — perhaps as a consequence — healthier community. The child poverty rate of 9.1% is considerably lower than the state and national child poverty rates. Also, the violent crime rate in Middlesex of 119 incidents per 100,000 people is far lower than the state and national figures.

8. Delaware
> Healthiest county:
New Castle
> Pct. without health insurance: 10.0%
> Pct. food insecure: 12.0%
> Obesity rate: 26.8%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.5%

As is the case in most of the country, the rural parts of Delaware tend to be less healthy than its urban areas. New Castle County is part of the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metro area and is 95.4% urban. Its residents are the healthiest of Delaware’s three counties by a small margin, and they are about as healthy as the average American overall.

The county’s 17.3% smoking and 26.8% obesity rates are slightly lower than the corresponding state rates. In both New Castle County and Delaware, however, the premature death rate is equal to roughly 343 deaths for every 100,000 residents, somewhat higher than the corresponding nationwide rate of 330 per 100,000 Americans.

9. Florida
> Healthiest county:
St. Johns
> Pct. without health insurance: 15.6%
> Pct. food insecure: 13.3%
> Obesity rate: 22.9%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.7%

A good education has several advantages, including helping residents lead healthier lifestyles and also find better employment opportunities. Of adults in St. Johns, Florida’s healthiest county, 76.6% have completed at least some college, far higher than the state rate of 60.6% and the national attainment rate of 64.0%.

Compared to the rest of the state, more St. Johns residents have access to exercise venues such as parks and gyms. Perhaps as a result, residents are also less likely to report completely sedentary lifestyles, which in turn may partially explain the county’s relatively low obesity rate of 22.9%. By contrast, 25.5% of state residents and 27.0% of Americans are obese.

10. Georgia
> Healthiest county:
Oconee
> Pct. without health insurance: 15.5%
> Pct. food insecure: 10.2%
> Obesity rate: 30.9%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.1%

Some of the least healthy places in the United States tend to be rural counties in the Southeast. Rural Oconee County, however, is the healthiest county in Georgia and among the healthiest in the country. Just 11.3% of county adults report fair or poor health compared to 17.0% in Georgia as a whole. Oconee County’s proximity to the University of Georgia may partially account for the area’s high incomes and educational attainment, which ultimately helps residents lead healthier lifestyles. More than three in four county young working-age adults have gone to college, the highest share in the state. Also, the area’s median household income of $80,631 a year is about $31,000 more than the statewide figure and the second highest of any Georgia county.

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