Healthiest County in Every State

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Source: Brian Norwood / Flickr

1. Alabama
> Healthiest county: Shelby
> Smoking rate: 14.0%
> Obesity rate: 30.1%
> Median household income: $70,187

Across Alabama, 21.2% of adults are in fair or poor health, one of the highest shares of any state. Not all parts of the state are unhealthy, however. Only 14.2% of adults in Shelby County, located just southeast of Birmingham, report being in fair or poor health, compared to the 15.0% of adults who do nationwide.

The positive self-reported health outcomes may partially be the result of residents who are less likely to engage in certain unhealthy behaviors. Of county adults, only 14.0% smoke and 14.7% drink excessively, well below the 18.0% national share for both behaviors.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Alaska
> Healthiest county: Juneau
> Smoking rate: 15.9%
> Obesity rate: 28.6%
> Median household income: $85,746

Only 11.4% of adults in the City and Borough of Juneau, the state’s capital report being in fair or poor health, slightly less than the comparable 13.7% statewide and 15.0% national figures. Better than typical health outcomes are partially attributable to healthier lifestyles. For example, only 14.2% of area adults get no exercise beyond getting up and going to work. In comparison, 18.6% of adults in Alaska and 22.0% of American adults report similarly infrequent physical activity.

Healthier lifestyles in Juneau may be explained by the numerous opportunities for exercise available to residents in the region. The Census estimates that every Juneau resident has adequate access to places for physical activity such as parks and recreation centers. Meanwhile, only 67% of Alaskans and 84% of Americans benefit from such access.

3. Arizona
> Healthiest county: Maricopa
> Smoking rate: 13.0%
> Obesity rate: 25.4%
> Median household income: $54,229

Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix, Arizona’s largest city, is the healthiest of all 15 counties in the state. Area residents are more likely to have access to areas for physical activities, such as parks and recreation centers, than the state population as a whole.

Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of obesity, and obesity is slightly less prevalent in Maricopa County than it is across Arizona and the United States as a whole. Some 25.4% of Maricopa adults are obese compared to 26.1% of Arizona adults and 28.0% of American adults.

4. Arkansas
> Healthiest county: Benton
> Smoking rate: 16.3%
> Obesity rate: 30.1%
> Median household income: $56,239

Unhealthy behavior is one of the leading causes of poor health. About one in every four adults Arkansas are smokers, and over 34% of adults are obese. In comparison, of all U.S. adults, 18.0% smoke and 28.0% are obese.

People living in Benton County, situated in the northwest corner of the state, tend to live healthier lives than is typical across Arkansas. Only 16.3% of county residents smoke and 30.1% are obese, each the lowest shares of any county in the state.

Source: Thinkstock

5. California
> Healthiest county: Marin
> Smoking rate: 10.0%
> Obesity rate: 18.9%
> Median household income: $93,257

Californians tend to lead far healthier lives than most Americans. In Marin County, situated directly across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Franciso, adults are more likely to be physically active and less likely to smoke or be obese than adults in nearly every other county in the United States. Healthy outcomes can be the result of healthy behaviors, and in Marin County, only 11.0% of adults report being in fair or poor health, well below the 17.8% share of adults statewide. Marin County adults also report fewer physically or mentally unhealthy days per month than adults across the state and nation.