Large gaps in health persist not just across the country, but within every state. County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, in its 2019 annual report released March 19, demonstrates how health outcomes such as life span and behaviors such as smoking, obesity, and exercise vary widely across the country.
Positive health outcomes are often the result of healthy behaviors. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise, abstaining from smoking and excessive drinking, and regular doctor visits — while by no means a guarantee — will greatly increase one’s chances for a long and healthy life.
These and other such features of well-being are closely linked to indirect factors. Proximity to quality schools and good job opportunities provide education and the financial means that often contribute to better health by allowing people to make better choices and providing the means to live a healthy lifestyle. Eating a healthy diet is much easier for people living in communities with access to grocery stores with affordable nutritious food. And access to parks and other places of exercise means staying active can be made a part of everyday routines.
To identify the healthiest county in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed county-level health data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program. In almost every state, even in those characterized by unhealthy habits and poor health outcomes, there is at least one county where residents are much more likely to be in good health than is typical nationwide.