The healthiest county in South Carolina is Beaufort, and Lee County is in the poorest health.
That’s according to a national county-by-county report ranking the overall health of nearly every county in the nation. The second annual County Health Ranking Report was released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute.
Johnson Foundation Program officer Brenda Henry says the counties in South Carolina follow a similar pattern as others across the country in that counties with large urban and suburban areas tend to be in much better health than their rural counterparts.
According to the rankings, 37 percent of adults in Lee County are obese, compared to 20 percent in Beaufort County. The percentage of children living in poverty in Lee County is twice that in Beaufort County. Beaufort was also ranked the state’s healthiest county in the inital rankings report in 2010.
Henry says the factors examined in each county to develop the rankings fell under four basic categories: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.
Some of the other factors are rates of high school graduation, availability of primary health care providers, and the number of uninsured adults. A critical factor was access to healthy food, which Henry says many people do not realize is very tough for areas of high poverty.
She adds, for many communities around the country, people tend to seek out health care when they are sick. However Henry says the key to a population’s overall health is the practice of wellness– living lifestyles that prevent diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.
She recommends people can start living healthier by eating a proper diet of healthy food, including fruits and vegetables. From a community standpoint, stakeholders and policymakers can develop ways to make the overall community environment healthier.
According to the rankings, South Carolina’s top 10 healthiest counties are Beaufort, Lexington, York, Greenville, Dorchester, Charleston, Pickens, Berkeley, Richland and Kershaw. The counties in the poorest health (starting with the least healthy) are Lee, Allendale, Dillon, Williamsburg, Orangeburg, Bamberg, Marlboro, Marion, Chesterfield, and Chester. The full report can be viewed at www.countyhealthrankings.org.