Mar 20, 2024 - News

Dallas and Sioux are Iowa's healthiest counties

<span style="text-align: center; display: block"> County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2024</span>
Note: Health Factors represent things that contribute to longer and healthier lives, such as health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment; Data: University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute; Map: Axios Visuals

Dallas and Sioux counties are among Iowa's healthiest, according to an annual report released today by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Why it matters: Life expectancy of residents in those counties is longer compared to those that ranked among the least healthy.

Catch up fast: The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps assesses communities on dozens of health factors that help determine length and quality of life, like access to health care.

  • Its reports go back more than a decade and often draw connections between social policies, laws and health.

The intrigue: This year's report highlights how counties with more access to information via local news, broadband internet and public libraries are generally among the healthiest.

  • People there have higher rates of civic participation and tend to live longer, per the report.

State of play: Many of Iowa's outcomes stayed relatively steady, including the percent of adults who report being in poor or fair health — 13%, up a percentage point from last year.

By the numbers: Sioux retained its top spot in health outcomes this year among Iowa's 99 counties. Dallas was second, up one spot from the previous year.

  • Polk Ranked 64th, up from 69.
  • Lee ranked 98th and Clarke 99th this year.

Zoom in: Life expectancy in Sioux and Dallas was more than 82 years, while it was less than 75 in Lee and Clarke.

  • Polk's is about 78 years.

Between the lines: Opportunity and wealth are factors.

  • The median household income of Sioux and Dallas counties is among the highest, between $76K and $109K respectively.
  • Dallas County is the home of growing communities like Waukee and West Des Moines. Sioux is home to Orange City — a small, conservative Dutch town that's benefited from young adults choosing to stay rather than leave, unlike other rural communities.

The other side: Lee and Clarke's was $56K or less, in the bottom half of the state, the report shows.

The big picture: Reviewing individual factors and how they have changed over time is more important than county ranking, Sandra Burke, a research scientist with Iowa State University's Indicators Program told Axios in 2022.

  • The data is intended to help communities diagnose core problems and implement solutions, authors wrote in this year's report.
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