WELLNESS
03/20/2013 07:41 pm ET

Healthiest County Rankings Reveal State Of America's Health

An annual ranking of county health across the United States is providing a larger glimpse into the nation's overall health, showing that the number of premature deaths are at the lowest in two decades.

However, it's not all good news -- the rankings also reveal giant disparities between the healthiest and unhealthiest counties, with those in the unhealthiest counties having a more than doubled rate of premature death compared to the healthiest counties.

The rankings, which are released each year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, are based on 25 factors including smoking rates, obesity, teen birth rates, childhood poverty, graduation rates, exercise, single-parent households, health-care accessibility and healthy food accessibility.

Researchers found that violent crime has, on a whole, decreased in the past 20 years, going down by nearly 50 percent. But they also found that about one in five children lives in poverty, a rate that has not improved since 2000.

There were also notable differences in some factors between the most healthy and least healthy counties. For example, there is a nearly doubled teen birth rate among the least-healthy counties, compared to the most-healthy counties. BuzzFeed Shift also pointed out that violent crimes are much higher in the least healthy counties -- 262.4 for every 100,000 people -- compared with the healthiest counties -- 161.6 for every 100,000 people.

Researchers also reported that health-care access was better for the healthiest counties than the least healthy counties.

How did your county fare in the ranking? Check out the interactive ranking here.

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