Apr 5, 2023 - News

Tampa Bay counties among healthiest in Florida

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

Tampa Bay has some of the healthiest Floridians in the state.

Driving the news: Most Tampa Bay counties earned the highest scores in Florida in an annual county health ranking by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

  • Sarasota did the best, ranking No. 12 in health outcomes and No. 2 in health factors.

Yes, but: Citrus was among some of the lowest-ranked counties.

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

  • It's designed to be a tool to help decide where to invest resources.

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

  • Factors include the number of dentists in a community or the rate of sexually transmitted infections.
  • Healthier counties tend to have better access to information, through things like good broadband, libraries and local news outlets, as well as well-funded schools and parks.

What they're saying: "Where there's an opportunity for change is in those health factors," Ericka Burroughs-Girardi, research program coordinator for the project — called County Health Rankings & Roadmaps — tells Axios. "When health factors go up, health rankings tend to follow."

Of note: The research includes data-backed strategies to address specific problems, like child care subsidies to help close income gaps, or supporting community gardens to promote exercise and healthier eating.

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