May 2, 2022 - News

Dallas County ranks as healthiest in Iowa

County health factors rankings, 2022
Data: County Health Rankings; Map: Thomas Oide and Jared Whalen/Axios

Our neighbors in Dallas County are the healthiest in Iowa, according to a report released last week by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Why it matters: The evidence-based data informs community-level reports used to shape policies around improving public health, Sandra Burke, a research scientist with Iowa State University's Indicators Program, tells Axios.

How it works: The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps assess communities on more than 30 measures of health factors and outcomes, using data collected between 2014 and 2021.

  • Health outcomes determine length and quality of life, while health factors include access to health care, tobacco and alcohol use, diet and exercise, air and water quality, education, employment, income, transit and housing.

By the numbers: Dallas County ranks No. 1 in both health factors and outcomes.

  • About 5% of county children live in poverty, the lowest in the state, according to the report. Iowa's average is 12%.
  • Dallas is also among nine counties that tie for having the state's lowest percentage of residents who are uninsured — 4%, compared to 6% statewide.
  • Adult smoking (13%) and obesity (30%) in Dallas County are also below Iowa's averages — 17% and 34% respectively.

For comparison: Polk County ranks about average in both health outcomes and health factors — 45th and 54th respectively, according to the report.

  • Child poverty rates and those who are uninsured in Polk County, 14% and 6%, are also around the state averages.
  • Meanwhile, adult smoking is at 17% and obesity is at 35% in the county.

Yes, but: Counties with lower rankings aren't necessarily in bad spots, Burke said.

  • Reviewing the individual factors and how they have changed over time is more important, she said.

​​Go deeper: Explore the data.

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