Do you live in a healthy place?

Melody Ng
Public Insight Network
Map of preventable hospital stays in Florida, by county

Preventable hospital stays in Florida, by county. Holmes County (circled) has the highest rate. From County Health Rankings 2013.

Want to know which county in Florida has the most preventable hospital stays?  (Answer: Holmes, in the northern panhandle.)

How about which county in South Dakota has the fewest fast food restaurants?  (Seventeen counties have just one! But Minnehaha County has the most: 126.)

Interested in smoking rates near you?  (Chester County’s got the lowest percentage of smokers in Pennsylvania, while Mineral and Lyon Counties are tied for the highest percentages in Arizona.)

The team behind County Health Rankings released the site’s newest iteration just today, and it has gobs of good data, graphs, interactive maps — all measuring and rating the healthiness of nearly every county in every state of the nation. The website is a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Researchers examined and weighted 30 indicators of longevity and quality of life — such as the number of fast food restaurants, drinking water safety, single-parent households, high school degrees and access to recreational facilities, dentists and primary care doctors — to make up their rankings.

Check out how the county where you live compares to others in your state. Examine trends over time, do your own analyses, or just follow your curiosity. (Just don’t try to compare counties across states; the data wasn’t necessarily collected the same way in different states.)

The creators of the site do offer up a few nationwide trends, though. Violent crime, they say, is down almost 50 percent over the past two decades.  And people living in healthier counties are 1.4 times more likely to have access to dentists and primary care doctors than those living in the least healthy counties.


Melody Ng Analyst
Public Insight Network

As a Public Insight analyst, Melody Ng's job is all about finding out what people know, and then putting their experience and expertise to work making great news stories. She's particularly interested in getting diverse perspectives and voices into the news. So if you don’t hear people who think or sound like you in the news, then: Tell us what you know here. And come on into our newsroom!

Melody got into journalism through an internship with documentary unit American RadioWorks when looking for a different way to use the skills she had learned through doing science.