Find out which Florida counties are the healthiest

See how Central Florida counties rank

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. - Several Central Florida counties have been named among the healthiest in the Sunshine State, according to a recently released study.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute collaborate on the nationwide study each year to determine the overall health of each county in each state.

Factors such as length and quality of life, percent of babies born with a low birth-weight, access to healthly food and medical care and more are taken into account when determining each county's ranking.

In Florida, the healthiest counties were concentrated in the southern part of the state, followed by the central region. North Florida had the highest amount of low-ranking counties.

Researchers say the data proves that where a person is located geographically can affect how well and how long they live. They also noted that physical health is greatly influenced by quality of life and access to resources, which in many cases is dependent on income.

"Social and economic factors, like connected and supportive communities, good schools, stable jobs, and safe neighborhoods, are foundational to achieving long and healthy lives. These social and economic factors also interact with other important drivers of health and health equity. For example, housing that is unaffordable or unstable can either result from poverty or exacerbate it. When our homes are near high performing schools and good jobs, it’s easier to get a quality education and earn a living wage," researchers wrote.

Race also comes into play, with the researchers pointing out that quality of life is generally worse for Native American, black and Hispanic residents when compared to whites and Asians. Even in the healthiest counties, black and American Indian premature death rates are about 1.4 times higher than the white rate.

Department of Health Orange deputy health officer Nasseam M. James said the department considered those influences when working to improve the county's score from last year to this year.

“The leap to the number 10 spot is not by accident. No, this is the result of community collaboration and intentional efforts to address health outcomes strategically and through targeted initiatives. I am happy to share in this achievement with partners and stakeholders as our community strives toward building a culture of health in Orange County,” James said.

Below are the top 10 healthiest counties in the state:

1. St. Johns 
2. Collier
3. Martin
4. Seminole
5. Miami-Dade
6. Sarasota
7. Santa Rosa
8. Monroe
9. Flagler
10. Orange

For those counties that ranked lower on the list, researchers note there are ways to improve the health of residents.

Access to stable, affordable housing, for one, has a major influence on health because those who spend the majority of their income on rent or a mortgage payment have little left over to spend on medical treatment or to invest in their well-being.

Improving inclusivity and connectivity in communities is another way to move forward. To do this, leaders should focus on making sure everyone has access to earn a living wage, public transportation, quality health care, effective schools, grocery stores and more.

Below are the rest of rankings for the state:

11. Lee
12. Palm Beach
13. Wakulla
14. Broward
15. Leon
16. Clay
17. Walton
18. Liberty
19. Mantee
20. Sumter
21. Indian River
22. Okaloosa
23. Hillsborough
24. St. Lucie
25. Pinellas
26. Lake
27. Osceola
28. Charlotte
29. Hardee
30. Brevard
31. Alachua
32. Polk
33. Hendry
34. Gulf
35. Gilchrist
36. Nassau
37. Pasco
38. Highlands
39. Franklin
40. Hernando
41. Bay
42. Lafeyette
43. DeSoto
44. Duval
45. Holmes
46. Volusia
47. Jefferson
48. Glades
49. Escambia
50. Baker
51. Washington
52. Marion
53. Okeechobee
54. Suwannee
55. Taylor
56. Citrus
57. Jackson
58. Calhoun
59. Columbia
60. Levy
61. Madison
62. Hamilton
63. Gadsden
64. Bradford
65. Dixie
66. Putnam
67. Union

To read the study in its entirety, click here.

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