Mar 22, 2024 - News

Our healthy county

<span style="text-align: center; display: block"> 2024 County Health Factors rankings</span>
Data: County Health Rankings; Note: Factors include prevalence of healthy behaviors, quality of clinical care, socio-economic indicators and physical environment; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

King County has far better health outcomes than most of the nation, according to a new report.

Why it matters: Compared to the national average, King County has a lower rate of premature death and a lower share of adults reporting that they're in poor physical health.

  • That's according to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a program of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Zoom in: The report also found that a lower percentage of King County infants had low birth weights versus the U.S. average.

Yes, but: Our mental health is only so-so.

  • King County adults reported that their mental health was not good on 4.9 of the previous 30 days. The national average was 4.8 days.

Between the lines: King County's generally high health outcomes are driven by several factors, including lower-than-average rates of obesity, as well as low rates of teen births and smoking, per the report.

  • Only 23% of King County adults reported being obese in 2021, compared to 29% statewide and 34% nationally.
  • 98% of King County residents report living close to a park or recreation facility, another factor measured in the report.

Zoom out: Among Washington counties, only King ranked among the top counties in the nation when it came to factors influencing overall health.

  • 27 of Washington's 39 counties had better-than-average health indicators compared to the rest of the country, while seven Washington counties ranked just about average.
  • Four counties — Adams, Ferry, Grant and Yakima — ranked lower than the U.S. average.

The fine print: The health indicators measured in the study included social and economic factors, like high school completion and unemployment rates, as well as things like pollution levels, access to doctors and commute lengths.

What they're saying: Places with strong civic infrastructure, such as broadband internet access and public libraries, "are often healthier," the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program said in a recent news release.

  • "These counties are often located in the Northeast and Western regions of the country and tend to also experience more social and economic opportunities and longer life expectancy," per the news release announcing the findings.

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