#10 Reynolds County (Centerville, Bunker, Ellington, Reynolds, Lesterville)
Instances of premature death are above average but improving. However, 28% of residents reported fair or poor health, and adult obesity and physical inactivity are over 30% and both are rising. 37% of children in Reynolds County are in poverty and there is below average access to health care. The county also has more alcohol-related driving deaths, and more instances of preventable hospital stays than the state’s average. Also, while there is a lower violent crime rate than average, the county is higher in injury-related deaths.
#9 Butler County (Poplar Bluff, Fisk, Neelyville, Qulin)
Smoking is more of a problem in Butler County than the rest of the state, and adult obesity levels are high at 35% (and increasing.) This could be directly related to the high rate of physical inactivity. In fact, 28% of the county was reported as being in fair or poor health. In addition, teen births are higher than average, and 32% of children are living in poverty.
#8 St. Louis City
Probably not a surprise, as with most big cities, there are often big health concerns. High levels of violent crime, sexually transmitted diseases and a high level of teen pregnancy are just a few of the issues plaguing St. Louis. Children seem to be largely at risk with 43% living in poverty and 62% in single-parent homes, as well as severe housing problems. There is also a higher level of pollution, injury related deaths, and a high level of adult obesity that is rising.
#7 Hickory County (Hermitage, Quincy)
With 51% of residents reported to be in fair or poor health, and an average of 7.1 poor health days and 9.8 poor mental health days per month, Hickory may be suffering largely due to the lack of access to health providers and an increasing number of uninsured. In addition, 43% of children are living in poverty, obesity levels are high and there are a larger number of smokers. Only 19% have access to exercise options compared to the Missouri average of 77%. Although they have low violent crime rates, they have a high level of alcohol-related driving deaths and a high number of injury deaths. Environmentally, they might want to do something about the 37% of drinking water violations compared to Missouri’s average of 4%.
#6 Ripley County (Doniphan, Grandin, Naylor, Fairdealing)
Ripley has a lot of smokers (47% vs. the 23% Missouri average) and an above average adult obesity issue that is getting worse. Lack of access to exercise options, doctors, dentists, and mental health providers is most likely related to the high level of inactivity and the high level of preventable hospital stays. 39% of children are living in poverty and the unemployment rate is higher than the state average. Also, alcohol impaired driving deaths are almost twice the number of the state average, violent crime rates are increasing, and more poor health days and poor mental health days per month are being reported.
#5 Carter County (Van Buren, Ellsinore, Grandin)
Carter has a higher than average amount of premature deaths, but the numbers are improving. A 7.5% unemployment rate and 37% of children living in poverty are major factors in the county being on this list. They have low violent crime, but higher than average injury deaths. Adult obesity is higher than average and rising. Although many of the counties numbers are at or near the state average, they don’t rate high in any positive factors either.
#4 Mississippi County (Charleston, Wolf Island, East Prairie)
35% of residents were reported to be in fair or poor health. The obesity rates and inactivity rates are around average but show an increasing trend. The county has more than twice as many teen births than the state average, and more than average number of preventable hospital stays. Violent crime is above average and increasing, and there seems to be a lack of access to doctors, dentists and mental health providers. The county was also rated next to last in Quality of Life, and residents had an average of 6 poor health days per month vs. Missouri’s average of 3.7.
#3 Dunklin County (Kennett, Hornersville, Campbell, Clarkton)
Dunklin has a high number of premature deaths and the number is increasing. People just don’t seem to be living as long. There are 40% of children living in poverty and twice as many teen births than the state average. 29% of residents were reported to be in fair or poor health and the average number of poor health days was 6.3, compared to the state average of 3.7. Obesity rates and inactivity levels were near average but show an increasing trend. There is a lower than average violent crime rate, but higher than average number of injury related deaths. The drinking water is also an issue with 25% violations vs. the state average of 4%.
#2 New Madrid County (New Madrid, Lilbourn, part of Sikeston, Portageville)
High levels of physical inactivity and low access to exercise options are main indicators of poor health in New Madrid County. There are higher than average premature deaths, a large amount of teen births, and a reported 7.1 average poor health days per month. Lack of access to doctors, dentists and mental health providers is also an issue, and with an 18% drinking water violations compared to the state average of 4%, environmental issues are also a factor.
#1 Pemiscot County (Cooter, Caruthersville, Hayti, Holland, Braggadocio)
Almost twice the level of premature deaths than the state average is an indicator that people are not living as long. 32% of residents are reported to be in fair or poor health and an already high level of adult obesity (33%) is increasing. There were twice as many teen births than the state average, and twice as many preventable hospital stays. There was a low ratio of health providers to residents as well as a lack of access to exercise options. 45% of children are living in poverty and there are high levels of violent crime that is increasing.
Do you live in one of these counties? If you do, don’t feel too bad (I live smack dab in the middle of #8 myself), but you might want to get active in your community and come up with solutions to improve the health statistics in your county. Share your opinions in the comments below.