Special Report

The Healthiest County in Every State

16. Kansas
> Healthiest county:
Johnson
> Pct. without health insurance: 9.7%
> Pct. food insecure: 11.9%
> Obesity rate: 23.3%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 3.8%

Generally, city residents have better health than rural residents. In Johnson County, which is part of the Kansas City metro area, only 3.8% of residents live in rural areas. Johnson residents likely benefit from greater employment opportunities and higher incomes, both of which make staying healthy substantially easier. As in many other healthy areas, the median income among Johnson households of $76,104 is well above both the state and national median incomes. Compared with the state and nation, adults in Johnson are less likely to say they are in fair or poor health. Just 9.1% report such low levels of health compared to the state and national rates of 13.6% and 14.0%, respectively.

17. Kentucky
> Healthiest county:
Oldham
> Pct. without health insurance: 10.0%
> Pct. food insecure: 9.9%
> Obesity rate: 30.1%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.8%

Oldham County is by far the wealthiest county in Kentucky and among the wealthiest in the nation. The typical county household earns $92,097 a year, the most of any Kentucky county by nearly $25,000 and more than twice the statewide figure of $42,914. Educational attainment is also high in the area. The 71.1% of young working-age adults who have completed at least some college is a much larger share than the 58.6% statewide rate.

High incomes and educational attainment likely help residents lead the healthiest lifestyles in Kentucky. Just 22.5% of residents are physically inactive, a smaller share than the statewide 28.6% inactivity rate. Each year, there are 264 premature deaths per 100,000 residents, about 180 fewer deaths than the statewide premature death rate of 443 per 100,000 people.

18. Louisiana
> Healthiest parish:
Cameron
> Pct. without health insurance: 19.1%
> Pct. food insecure: 8.1%
> Obesity rate: 34.7%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.8%

Safe, affordable, and adequate housing is often the minimal requirement for healthy living. Housing problems such as deficient kitchen and plumbing facilities, as well as overcrowding and severe cost burdens afflict just 7.9% of households in Cameron — Louisiana’s healthiest county. This is in stark contrast with the comparable rates for the state and nation of 16.5% and 19.0% of households, respectively.

Cameron residents, while the healthiest in the state, are not especially healthy compared to the nation. The smoking rate of 19.9%, and the 28.2% of adults who report sedentary lifestyles in the area, for example, are each better than the state as a whole but worse than the national rates.

19. Maine
> Healthiest county:
Cumberland
> Pct. without health insurance: 11.7%
> Pct. food insecure: 14.2%
> Obesity rate: 22.0%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.4%

A strong economy in Cumberland County likely helps keep negative health outcomes at bay. The county is part of the Portland metropolitan area, which includes the Port of Portland and the headquarter locations of a number of major companies. Cumberland County’s 4.4% unemployment rate is the lowest in Maine, and its $61,436 median annual household income is the highest.

The high incomes and financial security may help residents lead relatively healthy lifestyles. Just 12.3% of county residents smoke and only 22.0% are obese, each the lowest such rates in Maine and among the lowest nationwide. Similarly, 15.9% of adults are physically inactive, the smallest share in the state.

20. Maryland
> Healthiest county:
Howard
> Pct. without health insurance: 7.7%
> Pct. food insecure: 8.1%
> Obesity rate: 22.6%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.4%

Residents living in more urban areas in general and near the D.C. area in particular tend to report relatively strong health outcomes. Howard residents, who live within commuting distance of both Baltimore and Washington D.C., are Maryland’s healthiest. Each year, there are 184 preventable deaths per 100,000 area residents, much lower than the state and national premature death rates and one of the lowest in the United States.

Proper medical care, healthy food, and healthy habits frequently require resources, and the high incomes in Howard likely play a major role in helping residents to live healthy. The area’s median household income of $106,871 is the highest in the state, and nearly double the national income level.

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