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Teton, Jefferson and Madison among healthiest counties in the state

December 22, 2018

Looking for a healthier life? You may want to head just north of Bonneville County.

County health rankings released earlier this year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute placed Jefferson, Madison and Teton counties among the seven healthiest counties in the state for 2018. Teton County ended up with the fifth best overall ranking in the state, while Jefferson and Madison ended up at sixth and seventh, respectively.

Ada County, the state’s most populous county, received the top ranking after being ranked third in 2017.

The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps project has monitored the quality of life across the country since 2011 and combines dozens of measurements that factor into the health of residents, from the rates of smoking and the uninsured population to broader issues such as the levels of education and crime. Forty-two counties were included in the final rankings for Idaho, with Clark and Camas excluded for being too small to reliably measure some of the key attributes.

Teton County’s high health ranking was helped by having low numbers for factors such as sexually transmitted diseases and premature deaths, but its fourth-lowest obesity rate in the state may be a bigger factor. In general, the obesity rate in an Idaho county was strongly related with the overall health of those counties. Teton and Madison were among the 10 counties in Idaho that had lower obesity rates than 90 percent of counties nationwide.

Bonneville County, which dropped nine spots in the rankings from 2017, ended up almost exactly average for its total health quality. Its overall health ranking was 23rd of the 42 counties measured in the state, but its health factors and medical care was among the top 10 in the state. The medical providers in Bonneville County helped to raise that average — the ratio of mental health providers and dentists to patients were both among the highest in Idaho.

Going further south, Bannock and Bingham counties ranked among the seven least-healthy counties in Idaho. Their poor rankings were a result of their overall quality of life, with many residents reporting at least four days of poor physical health and mental health within the last month before the survey.

The health of many of Idaho’s counties has helped to elevate the state’s overall quality of life. The United Health Foundation ranked Idaho as the 14th healthiest state in America in its report for 2017, with high scores for individual and community behaviors that led to a healthier life.

Another study from the Trust for America’s Health found that Idaho has a lower rate of obesity than the majority of U.S. states, although its 29.3 percent rate is still higher than every neighboring state except for Oregon.

The obesity report released Thursday shows U.S. adults aren’t getting any taller but they are still getting fatter, the Associated Press reported.

The average U.S. adult is overweight and just a few pounds from obese, thanks to average weight increases in all groups — but particularly whites and Hispanics.

Overall, the average height for men actually fell very slightly over the past decade. There was no change for women.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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