Special Report

Healthiest County in Every State

Source: Thinkstock

21. Massachusetts
> Healthiest county: Middlesex
> Smoking rate: 11.8%
> Obesity rate: 22.6%
> Median household income: $85,118

Middlesex is the healthiest county in Massachusetts and one of the healthiest nationwide. Just 11.8% of adults in the county smoke, a much smaller share than the 14.0% state and 18.0% national rates. While nationwide 28.0% of adults are obese, and in Massachusetts 24.1% of adults are obese, in Middlesex County the obesity rate is 22.6%, one of the lowest in the country.

Massachusetts has the lowest uninsured rate in the country, and in Middlesex County the share of residents with health insurance is even higher. Just 3.2% of Middlesex County residents do not have health insurance, the third smallest share of any county nationwide.

Source: rossograph / Wikimedia Commons

22. Michigan
> Healthiest county: Ottawa
> Smoking rate: 14.6%
> Obesity rate: 27.6%
> Median household income: $58,989

Ottawa County is located just west of Grand Rapids along the shore of Lake Michigan. Only 11.5% of adults in Michigan’s healthiest county report being in fair or poor health, well below the 16.8% statewide share. Favorable health outcomes in the county are partially the product of residents less likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors. Only 14.6% of county adults smoke, for example, compared to more than one in five adults statewide.

The incidence of sexually-transmitted disease is frequently used to gauge risky behavior in an area. In Ottawa, there are about 260 new cases of chlamydia for every 100,000 county residents in a given year, well below the 447 per 100,000 resident statewide STD incidence rate.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

23. Minnesota
> Healthiest county: Carver
> Smoking rate: 12.4%
> Obesity rate: 23.0%
> Median household income: $86,323

Carver is the healthiest county in one of the healthiest states. Some 91.7% of county adults report being in good or excellent health, the largest share in Minnesota and the third largest share of any county nationwide. County adults spend an average of 2.5 days in poor physical health each month, half a day less than the statewide average and more than a full day less than the national figure. For every 100,000 people nationwide, 333 die prematurely before the age of 75 annually. In Carver County, the premature mortality rate is 193 deaths per 100,000 residents, among the lowest of any county.

Source: Ditch Fisher / Wikimedia Commons

24. Mississippi
> Healthiest county: Rankin
> Smoking rate: 15.6%
> Obesity rate: 31.5%
> Median household income: $58,801

Mississippi is one of the least healthy states in the country. So while Rankin is the healthiest county in the state, county residents are less healthy than Americans on average. For example, Mississippi has a major obesity problem. While the obesity rate in Rankin County of 31.5% is one of the smallest in the state, it is still higher than the 28.0% national figure.

Mississippi also has the highest premature mortality rate in the country. For every 100,000 residents, 496 die prematurely before the age of 75 each year, far more than the national premature mortality rate of 333 deaths per 100,000 Americans. While Rankin County’s premature mortality rate of 364 deaths per 100,000 residents is the second lowest in the state, it is still greater than the national figure.

Source: Creative Commons / Wikimedia Commons

25. Missouri
> Healthiest county: Platte
> Smoking rate: 18.4%
> Obesity rate: 30.8%
> Median household income: $68,254

Though Missouri is one of the least healthy states in the country, some parts of the state are healthier than the country as a whole. Platte county has a premature death rate of just 253 per 100,000 residents annually, less than the statewide premature mortality rate of 386 deaths per 100,000 residents and the national rate of 333 premature deaths per 100,000 Americans.

Though Platte is the healthiest county in Missouri, many area residents struggle with obesity. An estimated 30.8% of Platte residents are obese, the same share as Missouri as a whole and a higher share than the 28.0% national obesity rate. Similarly, while the county’s 18.4% smoking rate is lower than the 22.3% statewide figure, it is still a larger share than the 18.0% of American adults who smoke.