Special Report

Healthiest County in Every State

Source: Thinkstock

6. Colorado
> Healthiest county: Douglas
> Smoking rate: 10.3%
> Obesity rate: 17.0%
> Median household income: $102,964

Because regular physical activity can help reduce one’s risk of obesity, it is likely not a coincidence that Colorado — the state with the most physically active residents in the country — also has the lowest obesity rate.

In Douglas County, located in between Denver and Colorado Springs, people are even healthier than residents statewide. Douglas County is one of only five counties nationwide where more than nine in 10 adults are regularly physically active. Only 17% of county adults are obese, a smaller share than nearly all U.S. counties. Positive outcomes are often the result of healthy behavior, and only 7.9% of adults in Douglas County report being in fair or poor health, the smallest share of any U.S. county.

Source: Thinkstock

7. Connecticut
> Healthiest county: Middlesex
> Smoking rate: 12.4%
> Obesity rate: 24.1%
> Median household income: $79,893

Middlesex County, located south of Hartford along the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, is the healthiest county in Connecticut. Only one in 10 adults in the county are in fair or poor health, the smallest share in the state and well below the comparable statewide figure of 14.3%.

Health outcomes in an area are often partly attributable to the level of access to medical care. Only 5.5% of Middlesex County residents lack health insurance, a far smaller share than the 8.0% uninsured rate statewide and the 14.0% uninsured rate nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

8. Delaware
> Healthiest county: New Castle
> Smoking rate: 15.8%
> Obesity rate: 27.7%
> Median household income: $65,476

There are only three counties in Delaware. As a result, the state’s healthiest county, New Castle, closely resembles the state as a whole in a number of health behaviors and outcomes. About 16% of adults in New Castle County report being in fair or poor health, only a slightly smaller share than the 17% of adults across Delaware who report the same.

Similarly, only a slightly larger share of adults in New Castle County are physically active than the comparable share statewide. Active lifestyles may partially explain the area’s 27.7% obesity rate, which is also slightly better than the 29.4% statewide obesity rate.

Source: Thinkstock

9. Florida
> Healthiest county: St. Johns
> Smoking rate: 13.4%
> Obesity rate: 21.9%
> Median household income: $66,194

St. Johns County, located just south of Jacksonville between the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean, is the healthiest county in Florida. Only 10.5% of adults in St. Johns are in fair or poor health, well below the 17.1% statewide share.

Healthy outcomes in the area are partially attributable to certain socioeconomic advantages. For example, only 12.9% of county residents struggle to access healthy food, either due to insufficient income or proximity to grocery stores — a smaller share than the 16.2% of Floridians. In addition, only 13.2% of St. Johns of residents lack health insurance, well below the 20.2% statewide uninsured rate.

Source: John Trainor / Wikimedia Commons

10. Georgia
> Healthiest county: Oconee
> Smoking rate: 13.1%
> Obesity rate: 28.8%
> Median household income: $72,182

Unsafe environments contribute to greater levels of stress, violence, and can lower overall health in a community. By contrast, safe communities are often also home to relatively healthy people. In Oconee County, Georgia, there are about 109 violent crimes a year for every 100,000 residents, less than a third of the corresponding statewide violent crime rate of 374 incidents per 100,000 residents.

Oconee County residents are also less likely to engage in behaviors known to increase the risk of poor health outcomes than is typical statewide. Just 13.1% of county adults smoke, and only 11.1% of driving deaths involve alcohol — well below the 17.7% and 23.4% state figures.