Americans who eat right, exercise regularly, and abstain from bad habits like smoking and excessive drinking are far more likely to live long, healthy lives. While this should come as a surprise to no one, unhealthy lifestyles remain common in certain parts of the country — and the serious toll they are taking is apparent in any number of reported health outcomes.
While lifestyle choices can have profound health implications, other factors, often outside of an individual’s control, can also have a significant impact on personal health. For a variety of reasons — limited access to healthy dietary and lifestyle options chief among them — lower-income Americans are more likely to report poor health outcomes than those who are financially secure. As a result, an area’s economy and job market are often closely tied to the health of a population.
Whether the causes are behavioral, economic, or some mix of the two, every state is home to at least one county where residents are far less likely to be in good health than residents across the state, and often the nation, as a whole.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed county-level data on behaviors and health outcomes from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program, to identify the least healthy county in every state. In some counties, residents are about three times more likely to die prematurely than residents across the state as a whole.