Madison County is the healthiest county in the Gem State, according to an annual national health ranking by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The southeast Idaho county has about 37,500 people, and the county seat is Rexburg. Other counties that ranked high include: Valley, Franklin, Latah, Blaine and Jefferson counties.
The rankings are based on a number of factors, including mortality, morbidity, health behaviors, clinical care, social / economic factors (graduation rates, children in poverty), and physical environment (daily fine particulate matter, drinking water safety, etc.).
Ada County, which has a population of more than 392,000, ranked seventh this year. That’s up from ninth last year — but not the highest in recent years. The county has ranked as high as 5th.
Canyon County also moved up, going from 24th place to 17th place.
So what makes Madison County so healthy? When you compare Madison County’s numbers with Ada County’s, it’s health behaviors where the two counties differ the most. Here’s a link to the report that allows you to compare all three counties in one screen.
For example, 16 percent of adults in Ada County smoke, while just 3 percent in Madison County light up. Ada County has a much higher rate of excessive drinking (defined as binge plus heavy drinking) — 17 percent, compared with 3 percent. The sexually transmitted disease rate (chlamydia) was 207 per 100,000 in Ada County, compared with 40 per 100,000 in Madison County.
Canyon County had higher rates of adults reporting poor or fair health (18 percent), poor mental health days (3.8 in the last 30 days), adults who smoke (19 percent), adult obesity (29 percent), physical inactivity (23 percent), sexually transmitted infection (350 out of 100,000), and uninsured under age 65 (23 percent), children in poverty (27 percent) and violent crime rate (276 per 100,000).