Unhealthiest Places in US Often Rural, Not Urban

Mostly thanks to poverty
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2011 3:41 PM CDT
Rural residents choose boxes of donated food at an aid distribution site at the county fairgrounds March 5, 2009 in Cheyenne Wells, Colorado.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – It turns out being a country mouse may be bad for your health. People who live in rural parts of the US may be significantly less healthy than those living in cities and suburbs, according to a new study from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The study found that 48% of the healthiest counties in the country were urban or suburban—while 84% of the least-healthy counties were rural, according to Reuters.

“Some of these rural areas are quite depressed, impoverished, with poor social and economic factors, and they have bad health outcomes,” one researcher explained. The study took into account each county’s rates for premature death, low birth weight, and disease; risk factors like smoking, obesity, and drinking; and even economic factors like education and employment. Many cities, like New York, ranked surprisingly well—but not all did. Milwaukee County, for example, ranked as the least healthy place in Wisconsin.

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