Map Ranks States' Health County-by-County

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , March 31, 2011

Sure enough there are amazing similarities. For example, in California, Marin County is the healthiest in both categories.

In Mississippi, of the 10 counties that are lowest in health outcomes, seven are also low in health factor scores.

In Texas, seven of the top 10 counties in health outcomes are also in the top 10 in health factors. 

In Illinois, seven of the top 10 counties in health outcomes are also in the top 10 in health factors. And seven of the poorest 10 counties in health outcomes are also among the 10 poorest scoring counties.

"The rankings really show us with solid data that there is a lot more to health than healthcare," said Patrick Remington, MD, director of the project and associate dean for Public Health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. "Where we live, learn, work and play affect our health, and we need to use the information from the rankings to shine a spotlight on where we need to improve."

Scores can also be compared based on how the county does in areas like diabetes screening or number of uninsured, or on the basis of rates of obesity and teen births or high school graduation rates.

The maps also show that the unhealthiest counties,

  • Have populations that are nearly twice as likely to be in fair or poor health
  • Significantly lower high school graduation rates.
  • Have more than twice as many children in poverty.
  • Have far fewer grocery stores or farmer's markets.
  • Have much higher rates of unemployment.

The project has previously published a similar sets of rankings, this year, expanded it so that people can compare the overall health of their county against other counties in their state, and also compare their performance against national benchmarks in top-performing counties.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

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