Special Report

The Healthiest County in Every State

26. Montana
> Healthiest county:
Gallatin
> Pct. without health insurance: 17.0%
> Pct. food insecure: 13.1%
> Obesity rate: 16.4%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 3.5%

Gallatin, located in the Rocky Mountains, is the healthiest county in Montana. County residents may be taking advantage of their proximity to Yellowstone National Park, as only 14.7% of adults do not exercise, a much lower figure than the state’s 22.0% inactivity rate. Residents maintain other relatively healthy habits as well. Only 14.7% of adults smoke, lower than the statewide 17.9% smoking rate. In Gallatin County, healthy behaviors likely yield healthy outcomes. For every 100,000 county residents, 233 die before the age of 75 — more than 100 fewer premature deaths than the corresponding statewide rate of 339 deaths per 100,000 residents.

27. Nebraska
> Healthiest county:
Seward
> Pct. without health insurance: 9.1%
> Pct. food insecure: 11.7%
> Obesity rate: 29.1%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 3.0%

Nebraska is one of the healthier states, and Seward is one of the healthiest counties in the nation. The average county resident feels physically unhealthy for just 2.5 days each month compared to 2.9 days for the average Nebraskan and 3.5 days for the average American.

Unlike many of the healthiest counties in the United States, Seward County residents are about as idle as the state as a whole. The county’s population is significantly more rural than the state as a whole, and only 48.3% of residents have access to locations for physical activity, compared to 79.7% who do statewide.

28. Nevada
> Healthiest county:
Douglas
> Pct. without health insurance: 20.2%
> Pct. food insecure: 14.1%
> Obesity rate: 22.4%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 7.9%

Like the healthiest county in most states, Douglas residents have healthier behaviors and better health outcomes compared to people across the state and country as a whole. With a smoking rate of 15.3%, area residents are less likely to use tobacco than Nevadans or Americans in general. Regular physical activity is also important — not only to combat obesity, but also for overall mental and physical health. Only 16.0% of Douglas residents report completely sedentary lifestyles, a relatively low percentage compared to the 20.9% of adults statewide and the 23.0% of adults nationally who report no physical activity whatsoever.

29. New Hampshire
> Healthiest county:
Rockingham
> Pct. without health insurance: 10.7%
> Pct. food insecure: 9.1%
> Obesity rate: 25.7%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.7%

Many believe that country living supports healthy lifestyles. While this may be true for some, residents of rural areas are more likely to smoke, less likely to eat healthy foods, and they tend to exercise less compared to urban dwellers. In New Hampshire, a relatively rural state, the population bucks this trend. In Rockingham, the state’s healthiest county, residents seem to have access to the best of both worlds. Rockingham is part of the Boston-Cambridge-Newton metro area, but is still has a larger share of residents living rural areas than the country as a whole. Residents benefit from employment opportunities, higher incomes, and access to more options for staying healthy. Of adults in the area, 11.5% report fair or poor health, slightly lower than the state share of people who report such poor health, which itself is among the lowest such percentages in the country.

30. New Jersey
> Healthiest county:
Hunterdon
> Pct. without health insurance: 7.7%
> Pct. food insecure: 7.2%
> Obesity rate: 21.3%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.7%

Hunterdon County is a wealthy suburb in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area. Only 9.6% of residents report being in fair or poor health, making it one of only a few U.S. counties where less than one in 10 residents report such levels of health.

High incomes likely help keep negative health outcomes at bay. The typical county household earns $103,876 a year, the most in New Jersey and the eighth most of any county nationwide. Children are much more susceptible to the negative health effects caused by financial instability than adults. Just 4.6% of Hunterdon County children live in poverty, far less than the 15.8% statewide child poverty rate and the 22.0% national rate.

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