Special Report

The Least Healthy County in Every State

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46. Virginia: Petersburg City
> Uninsured rate: 12.3% (city) 8.8% (state)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 26.0% (city) 15.9% (state)
> Obesity rate: 45.3% (city) 28.3% (state)
> Smoking rate: 21.6% (city) 15.3% (state)

In Petersburg City, an independent city categorized with counties by the Census Bureau, poor health outcomes are far more common than they are across the state as a whole. For example, the obesity rate is over 45%, the highest in Virginia and the fifth highest in the United States. Additionally, the premature death rate of 765 deaths before age 75 per 100,000 people is more than double the corresponding statewide rate of 316 deaths per 100,000 people.

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Source: A. Balet / Wikimedia Commons

47. Washington: Ferry County
> Uninsured rate: 10.2% (county) 6.1% (state)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 17.8% (county) 13.9% (state)
> Obesity rate: 28.3% (county) 27.0% (state)
> Smoking rate: 18.4% (county) 13.9% (state)

Though Ferry County ranks as the least healthy county in Washington state, area residents are less likely to exhibit certain unhealthy habits than the typical American. For example, while the 20.6% share of county adults who never exercise is higher than the state physical inactivity rate of 17.1%, it is lower than the 23.0% national rate. Additionally, the county’s 28.3% obesity rate is slightly higher than the statewide rate of 27.0% but closely in line with the 28.0% U.S. obesity rate.

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Source: NASKWV / Flickr

48. West Virginia: McDowell County
> Uninsured rate: 11.7% (county) 6.1% (state)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 33.2% (county) 24.1% (state)
> Obesity rate: 44.6% (county) 35.5% (state)
> Smoking rate: 27.9% (county) 24.8% (state)

About 12% of McDowell County residents do not have health insurance, the second highest uninsured rate of counties in the state and nearly double the state uninsured rate and uninsured Americans are less likely to receive preventative medical care. McDowell County residents have an average of 6 mentally unhealthy days a month, the most of any U.S. county, and 6.4 physically unhealthy days, the third most.

Additionally, nearly one in three adults in the county report being in poor of fair health, among the highest shares in the country. This is also more than the state’s rate of 24.1% of adults who report suboptimal health and far more than the national share of 16.0%.

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Source: J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

49. Wisconsin: Menominee County
> Uninsured rate: 24.9% (county) 5.4% (state)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 32.5% (county) 15.4% (state)
> Obesity rate: 45.1% (county) 30.6% (state)
> Smoking rate: 33.2% (county) 17.1% (state)

Adults in Menominee County, Wisconsin, report an average of 5.8 mentally unhealthy days and 6.3 physically unhealthy days per month, about two and three days more than the state average respectively, and by far the most of any of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Being overweight can detract from overall personal health, and a staggering 45.1% of adults in the county are obese, the highest share of any county in Wisconsin and well above the 30.6% state obesity rate.

Certain widespread unhealthy habits also contribute to poor outcomes in Menominee County. For example, nearly one in every three adults in the county smoke, the largest share of any county in the state.

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Source: patrick_s / Flickr

50. Wyoming: Fremont County
> Uninsured rate: 18.9% (county) 12.3% (state)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 16.8% (county) 15.1% (state)
> Obesity rate: 29.7% (county) 28.5% (state)
> Smoking rate: 17.9% (county) 18.9% (state)

Nearly 19% of Fremont County residents lack health insurance, the highest share of the state’s counties and much higher than the state’s uninsured rate of 12.3%. Adults in Fremont are also slightly more likely than adults in the state as a whole to be obese and to not exercise. All of these factors combined may help explain why 16.8% of county adults report being in fair or poor health, the highest share of counties in the state and slightly higher than the national rate of 16.0% and the state rate of 15.1%.

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