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Friday, February 19, 2010

Brookings and Lincoln Healthiest SD Counties; Lake in Top 20

Salut! to PP and Epp: the healthiest counties in South Dakota are Lincoln and Brookings. So says the 2010 County Health Rankings from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

My home, Lake County, comes in 14th on health outcomes and 18th on health factors. These rankings suggest that our actual health is a little better than the social and environmental factors influencing health might predict.

Some health details for Lake County:
  1. Compared to the state rate, we have less premature death, teen births, and even a little less income inequality.
  2. Alas, we also have significantly less access to healthy foods (Dan, listen up), slightly greater liquor store density (Dan), and slightly more binge drinking (Dan!).
  3. Our physical health is slightly better than the state average, but our mental health is slightly worse (let the jokes about Lake County bloggers skewing that average begin!).
Cartophiles delight: CHR maps the health factors and outcomes for every county in the country. The South Dakota maps:

Update: Cory Klumper applies his mad public radio skills to this study and notes that rural counties make up 20% of the healthiest places but 80% of the unhealthiest places. Hmm....


  1. It's great to see that two-parent, stable households are recognized as a postive factor. Two-parent homes are financially able to send their young, healthy children to SDSU which is why Brookings has the number 1 rank.

    The reservations rank last because the people there feel disconnected and lost. Boredom is one of many reasons the people resort to alcohol consumption and abuse towards each other.

    The solution?

  2. Some would argue that it's a lot easier to stay healthy if you have a good job. Thad, I find it interesting that you point first not to economic factors but cultural factors, that feeling of loss and disconnection. You sound like my philosophy prof at SDSU, who had us read Black Elk Speaks to udnerstand the greatest harm you can do to people is to break their "hoop," their worldview.

    How we fix a broken "hoop" remains to be seen. I'm sure communication is a necessary condition... and Gov. Rounds is right to make that a key part of the Year of Unity. Those conversations will be key to finding solutions. That's why we need to ride herd on all of our candidates for office and push them to lead the conversation about Native American issues.


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