Collin County and Denton County are ranked second and third healthiest counties in Texas, according to the 2013 County Health Rankings.
The annual analysis is done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
The state’s healthiest county was Williamson, which is in Austin’s northern suburbs. Polk County in East Texas was deemed the state’s least healthy county. Nationally, the healthiest counties tend to be suburban areas populated by residents with college degrees and high incomes. The median household income in Williamson County is about twice that of Polk County.
Collin County was No. 1 in the state on health behaviors—such as smoking, physical activity and obesity—as well as social and economic factors such as education, children living in poverty and violent crime rate.
In a separate study, Dallas-Fort Worth ranked 61st in well-being out of 189 U.S. metropolitan areas, according to The 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Texas ranked 27th out of 50 states in well-being.
Healthways, based in Franklin, Tenn., and Texas Health Resources announced a 10-year agreement in April 2012 to help physicians analyze and address patient health behavior.
Of the nine Texas metropolitan areas analyzed by the report, DFW was No. 1 in emotional health and work environment. Janna Massar, MD, an internist at Texas Health Presbyterian, credited the strong local economy for those high rankings.
The survey is based on more than 350,000 telephone surveys. Communities were ranked on six characteristics of well-being: life evaluation (how people feel about their current situation and what they expect life to look like in five years); emotional health; physical health; healthy behaviors; work environment; and basic access to essentials such as clean water, food, physicians and adequate health insurance.
Massar said life evaluation is “abysmal for everyone” in the U.S.
“This reflects our culture, which is overzealous about achievement. We’re not like Europeans who prioritize outside activities that enrich quality of life, like vacations and spending money on discretionary items. Americans are stressed,” she said.
Massar also was not surprised by the high rankings for Collin and Denton counties.
“That’s where you will find the most affluent payer reimbursement. Higher incomes promote country club and gym memberships, and shopping at Whole Foods. The higher the income, the lower the disease. This is the outcome you would expect,” she said.
Steve Jacob is editor of D Healthcare Daily and author of the new book Health Care in 2020: Where Uncertain Reform, Bad Habits, Too Few Doctors and Skyrocketing Costs Are Taking Us. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.