Shelby County named healthiest in Alabama

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

Shelby County’s residents are the healthiest in the state of Alabama, according to rankings recently released by a national website.

In early May, 247wallst.com released its list of the healthiest counties in every state in the nation, and suburban Shelby County was named tops in Alabama.

“Across Alabama, 21.2 percent of adults are in fair or poor health, one of the highest shares of any state. Not all parts of the state are unhealthy, however,” read Shelby County’s entry on the list. “Only 14.2 percent of adults in Shelby County, located just southeast of Birmingham, report being in fair or poor health, compared to the 15 percent of adults who do nationwide.

“The positive self-reported health outcomes may partially be the result of residents who are less likely to engage in certain unhealthy behaviors,” read the list. “Of county adults, only 14 percent smoke and 14.7 percent drink excessively, well below the 18 percent national share for both behaviors.”

According to the website, Shelby County has a 30.1 percent obesity rate, and the median household income is $70,187.

While compiling the rankings, the website studied health data for each county in the nation from County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, which was compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

“The report ranked each state’s counties based on the incidence of premature death and self-reported levels of health — that is, how long and how well residents live,” read the website. “While the average life expectancy in 66 of the 67 counties in Alabama — one of the least healthy states — is shorter than the average life expectancy nationwide of 78.5 years, in Shelby County, life expectancy is 79.2 years. Such standout counties tend to be home to the wealthiest, most-insured populations in a given state.”

Shelby County compares favorably to the healthiest counties in surrounding states:

-Florida’s healthiest county is St. John’s County, which has a 13.4 percent smoking rate, a 21.9 percent obesity rate and a $66,194 median household income.

-Georgia’s healthiest county is Oconee County, which has a 13.1 percent smoking rate, a 28.8 percent obesity rate and a $72,182 median household income.

-Rankin County, Mississippi, has a 15.6 percent smoking rate, a 31.5 percent obesity rate and a median household income of $58,801.

-Williamson County, Tennessee, has a 14.7 percent smoking rate, a 25.9 percent obesity rate and a $96,565 median household income.