Special Report

Healthiest County in Every State

Source: Ichabod / Wikimedia Commons

16. Kansas
> Healthiest county: Johnson
> Smoking rate: 11.0%
> Obesity rate: 24.8%
> Median household income: $76,113

Only 8.9% of adults in Johnson County, Kansas report being in fair or poor health, the smallest share in the state and the 10th smallest of all U.S. counties. People with health insurance tend to be healthier overall, as those with access to care are more likely to make regular doctor visits and receive preventive medical care. In Johnson County, only 7.6% of residents are uninsured, the smallest share in the state.

Healthy behaviors likely contribute to healthy outcomes in Johnson County. Only 11.0% of adults in the county smoke, compared to 17.7% of adults statewide. Additionally, only 24.8% of county adults are obese — well below the statewide 30.8% obesity rate.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

17. Kentucky
> Healthiest county: Oldham
> Smoking rate: 17.2%
> Obesity rate: 28.0%
> Median household income: $85,452

Based on a range of behavioral and health outcome measures, Oldham is the healthiest county in Kentucky. Like many counties on this list, healthy outcomes in the area are likely due in part to good access to care. For example, only 5.8% of county residents lack health insurance, the smallest share in the state and less than half the 14.0% national uninsured rate. Even with insurance health care can be expensive, and in Oldham, the typical household earns $85,452 a year, about $40,000 more than the statewide median income.

People in Oldham are also less likely to engage in certain risky behaviors than people across Kentucky as a whole. More than one in four Kentucky adults smoke, the largest share of any state. In Oldham, only 17.2% of the adult population smokes, also less than the national 18.0% smoking rate. Access to care and healthy behaviors partially explain why Oldham’s life expectancy of 78.9 years is the highest in Kentucky.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

18. Louisiana
> Healthiest parish: Cameron
> Smoking rate: 16.8%
> Obesity rate: 31.5%
> Median household income: $64,231

Living in one of the wealthiest counties in Louisiana, Cameron Parish residents are more likely to be able to afford a healthy lifestyle than residents in most other counties in the state. The typical Cameron Parish household earns $64,231 a year, nearly $20,000 more than the statewide median household income and the second most of any parish in the state. Just 7.3% of the parish population lacks reliable access to healthy food, the smallest share in the state. Area adults also report a lower smoking rate than both the state and nation. While Cameron Parish’s 31.5% obesity rate is higher than the 28.0% national rate, it is one of the lowest of any parish in Louisiana.

Source: Rapidfire / Wikimedia Commons

19. Maine
> Healthiest county: Cumberland
> Smoking rate: 13.0%
> Obesity rate: 22.7%
> Median household income: $60,051

Cumberland County is located in southern Maine and encompasses the city of Portland as well as a stretch of Atlantic coastline. As is the case with many counties on this list, Cumberland residents are relatively active. Only 15.2% of adults in the county report leading totally sedentary lives, the smallest share in the state and well below the 22.0% national physical inactivity rate. County residents’ active lifestyles are facilitated by easy access to parks and recreation centers. About 84% of county residents have adequate access to such locations for physical activities, well above the 67.7% share of Maine residents.

Regular physical activity can decrease the risk of certain deadly diseases and conditions and at 80 years, life expectancy in Cumberland is the highest of any county in Maine.

Source: Thinkstock

20. Maryland
> Healthiest county: Howard
> Smoking rate: 10.0%
> Obesity rate: 21.7%
> Median household income: $110,238

An affluent suburb of the Baltimore metro area, Howard is the healthiest county in Maryland. Nearly one in five county households earn at least $200,000 annually, the second largest share in the state and among the largest in the country. With such high incomes, Howard County residents are more likely to be able to afford healthy lifestyles than residents statewide. Just 7.5% of county residents lack reliable access to healthy food, only 16.3% of adults do not exercise, and just 5.2% do not have health insurance. By comparison, 12.7% of Maryland residents are food insecure, 21.5% do not exercise, and 8.9% are uninsured.

Just 182 in every 100,000 Howard County residents dies before the age of 75, far less than the statewide premature mortality rate of 319 deaths per 100,000 residents.