Recently released county-by-county rankings indicate the health of Western North Carolina residents. Map snapshot from Health

From mental health to teen births, lack of health insurance to drinking water violations, how does your county measure up when it comes to the overall health of its residents?

That is one of the questions explored in the newly released 2014 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a collaborative project between the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

According to the report, the rankings may help communities “identify and implement solutions that make it easier for people to be healthy in their schools, workplaces and neighborhoods.” Essentially, it can help residents understand what is making people healthy or sick within their counties, the report stated.

Carolina Public Press reviewed the rankings for each of the 18 westernmost counties of North Carolina. The report showed that, overall, the WNC county with the best ranking is Watauga County, which ranked second highest in the state. The lowest-ranked county in the region was Swain County, which ranked 94 out of the state’s 100 counties.

According to the report, the overall rankings in health outcomes represent how healthy counties are within the state. The healthiest county in the state is ranked No. 1. The ranks are based on two types of measures: how long people live and how healthy people feel while alive. The overall rankings in health factors represent what influences the health of a county. They are an estimate of the future health of counties as compared to other counties within a state. The ranks are based on four types of measures: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic and physical environment factors.

Health rankings for WNC counties 2014

Click on the links to read the specific countywide data related to the rankings.


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Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at

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