Using data gathered by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute, County Health Rankings has identified the healthiest and least healthy counties within every state in the nation. Researchers analyzed federal and state health data for 3,016 U.S. counties, specifically focusing on counties’ health outcomes and health factors, including disease and death rates, obesity rates, tobacco and alcohol use, income and unemployment levels, access to primary care, community safety, and the rate of low birth weight.
The full report includes the following key findings:
- Healthier counties are urban/suburban, whereas least health counties are mostly rural.
- The least healthy counties have significantly higher rates of premature death—2.5 times higher than the healthiest counties.
- People living in the least healthy counties reporting being in significantly poorer health.
- People living in the least healthy counties are much more likely to smoke—over 26%, compared to only 16% in the healthiest counties.
- People living in the least healthy counties are 60% more likely to be admitted to the hospital for preventable conditions.
- The least healthy counties have higher rates of poverty, with 30% of children living in poverty—over three times higher than the rate in the healthiest counties (9%).
- The 50 least healthy counties have fewer places where people can find healthy food.
The report also includes an interactive county map examining the healthiest and least healthy counties in each state.