Special Report

The Healthiest County in Every State

31. New Mexico
> Healthiest county:
Los Alamos
> Pct. without health insurance: 5.3%
> Pct. food insecure: 13.3%
> Obesity rate: 20.3%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.1%

The stark contrast between the health of Los Alamos residents and the health of New Mexicans overall reveals poor distribution of income in the state. While, by many measures, New Mexico is one of the least healthy states, Los Alamos residents are some of the wealthiest and healthiest Americans. A typical county household earns $108,477 annually, more than double both the state and national median incomes. Also, just 4.6% of children live in poverty in Los Alamos, a fraction of the statewide child poverty rate of 28.0%, which is the second highest of all states. The incidence of preventable death in Los Alamos of 177 per 100,000 people annually is also lower than half the state’s premature death rate.

32. New York
> Healthiest county:
Nassau
> Pct. without health insurance: 10.3%
> Pct. food insecure: 15.3%
> Obesity rate: 22.7%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.8%

Primarily as a result of financial well-being and greater access to adequate health care and infrastructure, Nassau residents are less likely than New Yorkers in general and Americans nationwide to report physically or mentally unhealthy days as well as poor health overall. The incidence of preventable death, at 237 lives lost before age 75 per 100,000 area residents, is also lower in the county.

Nearly all residents — 99.0% — have access to exercise venues, and only 10.3% of people do not have health insurance. Also, there are far more doctors and dentists available to area residents relative to the state and national dentist and doctor to population ratios.

33. North Carolina
> Healthiest county:
Orange
> Pct. without health insurance: 15.3%
> Pct. food insecure: 15.4%
> Obesity rate: 19.9%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.4%

While North Carolina is one of the less healthy states, high incomes and educational attainment in Orange County likely helps residents maintain relatively healthy lifestyles. The typical county household earns $60,304 a year, much more than the statewide median household income of $46,596. Similarly, the presence of large research universities in the county may help explain the 80.1% of young working-age adults who have completed at least some college, the highest in North Carolina and nearly the highest nationwide.

Residents maintain healthier habits than state residents overall. Just 15.1% of adults do not exercise compared to the 25.0% state inactivity rate. Also, just 19.9% of adults are obese, a smaller share than the 29.1% obesity rate across North Carolina.

34. North Dakota
> Healthiest county:
Sargent
> Pct. without health insurance: 10.1%
> Pct. food insecure: 5.7%
> Obesity rate: 31.7%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 2.4%

Unlike many of the healthiest counties, Sargent County’s population is somewhat idle. The county is entirely rural, and just two in five residents have adequate access to opportunities for physical activity. Likely as a result, 33.0% of county adults do not exercise, higher than the statewide inactivity rate of 25.2%. Also, the county’s 31.7% obesity rate is higher than the 30.2% state rate.

Nevertheless, Sargent County residents have the best health outcomes in the state. Just 10.3% of adults report being in fair or poor health, lower than the 12.1% state rate. Likewise, county residents report feeling in poor physical and mental health for 2.4 days a month on average, among the least in North Dakota and nationwide.

35. Ohio
> Healthiest county:
Delaware
> Pct. without health insurance: 7.4%
> Pct. food insecure: 9.9%
> Obesity rate: 27.1%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.0%

Education helps support healthy lifestyles in a variety of ways, and the high education level among Delaware County residents likely helps explain the area’s state-leading health outcomes. The county’s high school graduation rate of 96.6% and the percentage of young working-age adults who have completed at least some college of 83.1% are each far higher than the respective state and national rates. Partially as a result, Delaware county’s median annual household income of $97,802 is one of the highest not just in Ohio but of any U.S. county. Financial stability likely helps county residents stay healthy. Less than than 10% of adults say they are in poor or fair health, one of the lowest shares of adults reporting such low levels of health.

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