Special Report

The Healthiest County in Every State

21. Massachusetts
> Healthiest county:
Norfolk
> Pct. without health insurance: 3.0%
> Pct. food insecure: 9.1%
> Obesity rate: 19.7%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.0%

Unlike the nation and the state, fewer than one in five Norfolk, Massachusetts adults are obese. Residents of Massachusetts’ healthiest county are also less likely to smoke than their peers across the state and the nation. More frequent and reliable medical care may play a role in the health of residents. Only 3% of Norfolk residents do not have health insurance, lower even than the state uninsured rate, which is the lowest of all states in the country. Death before age 75, brought on by long-term smoking and obesity or any number of other sources contributing to premature death is almost always preventable. In Norfolk, there are 238 preventable deaths per 100,000 people, well below the state’s premature death rate, which itself is lower than all but two other states.

22. Michigan
> Healthiest county:
Ottawa
> Pct. without health insurance: 11.0%
> Pct. food insecure: 11.0%
> Obesity rate: 25.7%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.7%

In Ottawa County, just 15.0% of adults smoke and 25.7% are obese, better than the statewide 17.7% smoking and 31.4% obesity rates. Despite similar access to exercise opportunities, adults in Ottawa County exercise more often than adults in Michigan as a whole. Just 19.4% of county residents are physically inactive compared to 22.8% statewide.

These healthy behaviors have likely led to the best health outcomes in the state. There are 224.0 premature deaths per 100,000 county residents, a lower premature mortality rate than the 356.5 deaths per 100,000 people statewide.

23. Minnesota
> Healthiest county:
Carver
> Pct. without health insurance: 6.3%
> Pct. food insecure: 7.1%
> Obesity rate: 24.2%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 3.6%

By many measures, Minnesota is one of the nation’s healthiest states. Therefore, residents of Carver, the state’s healthiest county, are perhaps some of the healthiest Americans in the country. Only 8.6% of adults in the area say they are in poor or fair health, lower than the 10.7% and 14.0% of adults who report such poor health across the state and the nation. Also, the incidence of premature death of fewer than 200 per 100,000 county residents is lower than the level of preventable deaths across the state, which at 262 per 100,000 people is the lowest of all states.

24. Mississippi
> Healthiest county:
Rankin
> Pct. without health insurance: 15.5%
> Pct. food insecure: 14.7%
> Obesity rate: 31.3%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.7%

Mississippi is one of the least healthy states and the only place in the country where more than 10,000 years of potential life are lost due to premature death per 100,000 people. Although Rankin County residents are the healthiest in the state, they are still less healthy than the average American.

Rankin County’s 31.3% obesity rate is lower than the statewide 35.3% figure, yet still significantly higher than the national 27.0% obesity rate. Similarly, the 28.8% of county adults who do not exercise is a smaller share than the 33.4% of sedentary residents statewide, but it is far greater than the national figure of 23.0% of Americans who report no physical activity.

25. Missouri
> Healthiest county:
St. Charles
> Pct. without health insurance: 9.7%
> Pct. food insecure: 11.8%
> Obesity rate: 28.3%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.8%

Missouri residents are some of the nation’s least healthy Americans compared to other state populations. St. Charles residents are substantially healthier than Missouri residents overall. People in St. Charles are relatively wealthy and have the benefit of a safe community, each major factors contributing to stronger health outcomes. The typical area household earns $74,220 annually, far more than households across the state and the nation. There are also fewer than 150 violent crimes per 100,000 county residents annually, in stark contrast with the state violent crime rate of 452 incidents per 100,000 Missourians.

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