Apr 7, 2023 - News

Philadelphia has worst health ranking in Pennsylvania

Health outcomes of Pennsylvania counties, 2023
Data: County Health Rankings; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

About half of Pennsylvania’s counties were in the bottom portion of an annual ranking of health outcomes, according to the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

  • Philadelphia County was the worst overall out of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties, while Chester topped the list. A total of 17 counties received the “lowest” possible score.

Why it matters: The data is so rich it allows high-scoring communities to find weak spots to tackle, writes Axios’ Emily Harris, often by solving problems that may not immediately seem connected to health such as inadequate housing, long solo commutes and even low voter turnout.

How it works: The annual rankings crunch "health outcomes" data — such as premature death, low birthweight and self-reported mental and physical well-being — along with "health factors," that correlate to health outcomes.

  • Some factors are directly connected to health, such as the number of dentists in a community or the rate of sexually transmitted infections. But others are indirectly linked to physical health, such as social ties, economic health and the physical environment.
  • Healthier counties tend to have better access to information, through good broadband, libraries and local news outlets, and well-funded schools and parks.

By the numbers: Almost a fifth of Philadelphia County was considered in poor health.

  • The adult obesity rate was 31%, and the rate of sexually transmitted infections was 999.6 per 100,000.

Zoom in: Life expectancy for Philadelphia County was 6 years lower than Chester’s average of 81, while 16% of the county reported dealing with food insecurity compared with only 6% in Chester.

Zoom out: Greene, Cambria, Lawrence and Fayette joined Philadelphia in the five lowest-ranked counties.


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