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Healthiest Counties for Kids Not in Northern Plains

U.S. News posts a list of the country's 50 healthiest counties for kids. On that map, the Northern Plains are a desert:

The closest we come to the healthiest places for kids are Olmsted (Rochester) and Washington (Stillwater, east side of the Cities) counties in Minnesota and Johnson County (Iowa City) in Iowa.

U.S. News scored counties on the following factors:

It highlights counties that feature, among other child-friendly data, fewer infant deaths, fewer low birth weight babies, fewer deaths from injuries, fewer teen births and fewer children in poverty. Besides the data displayed here, the percentage of children without health insurance, air quality (except for Alaska and Hawaii), rates of adult smoking and adult obesity, and access to physicians and exercise opportunities also were considered. All the variables were equally weighted [Angela Haupt, "America's 50 Healthiest Counties for Kids," U.S. News & World Report, 2014.06.16].

Among the factors Haupt's report cites that South Dakota could work on for healthier kids:

  1. Renewable energy (less air pollution means healthier kids)
  2. Access to healthier foods at public events and in vending machines
  3. More support for pre-natal care
  4. Smoking bans in parks
  5. Increased electronic access to library resources (although other research says technology is bad for kids—oh! what's a parent to do?)

I can't find Haupt's full dataset to see which South Dakota county comes closest and how close it comes to making the top 50, but I'll posit that you can also make any county in South Dakota a healthier place for your kids by taking them outside... right now!


  1. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.21

    Rochester has the Mayo Clinic. It's my home town. Better health care, and all those medical professionals and their kids. If that ain't a factor, then it don't hail in Lawrence County in the summertime.

  2. Tim 2014.06.21

    All of those intrusions into SD conservatives way of life? There is no way republicans here will stand for that, besides, all of those kids are already born, they should be self-sufficient.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.21

    All that hail probably brought down Lawrence County's ranking. Other than that, Spearfish should be in the top ten!

  4. Tim 2014.06.21

    We got lucky in Rapid, storm let up just as it went over the city, then reformed and pounded Box Elder, my garden lives!

  5. Tim 2014.06.21

    After pondering the map for a bit, I notice red states were pretty much not a part of the picture, I wonder how much longer voters in these places are going to continue to tolerate this?

  6. mike from iowa 2014.06.21

    I sometimes wonder if wingnuts get too much benefit of the doubt when it pertains to sex and procreation. Maybe some of them believe that "teen births"actually means some babies are born teenagers and can truly fend for themselves. Maybe they need to be tested before they are allowed to vote on women's issues. The test could include language they might relate to such as shooting blanks means a guy has had a vasectomy. Or accidental discharge is what is referred to as premature ejaculation. Responsible gun owners are men and women who don't cheat on their spouses. Incoming could be his ejaculate. I think the examples are endless and even wingnuts could think of some.

  7. Jerry 2014.06.21

    Mike from Iowa, those words sound like those of one of the great ones from the Sioux City area, Steve King. When I saw him and Gomer and that bubble head from St. Cloud, Minnesota in the same picture, I thought the only thing missing was our dust bunny NOem.

  8. Tim 2014.06.21

    Hahaha, dust bunny, the quote of the day.

  9. mike from iowa 2014.06.21

    "Cantaloupe Calves" King is my representative and I'm sure he's proud of it. You must be referring to 3 loops of a cloverleaf-loopy King,loopy Gohmert and even loopier Bachmann.

  10. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.06.21

    Waukesha County in Wisconsin is quite wealthy and fairly red. Enough money can apparently turn a county blue in terms of health benefits. Bluest of blue northern California and the Northeast appear to be very good at caring for their children throughout each kid's childhood.

    How novel!

  11. mike from iowa 2014.06.21

    Here is Alaska's one and only congressional dust bunny solemnly listening as a colleague offers legislation to rename a post office for a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan.

    It goes w/o saying he is a wingnut.

  12. Donald Pay 2014.06.21

    To boil it all down: have wealthy parents and/or neighbors.

  13. Jenny 2014.06.21

    Olmsted County (Rochester MN) has over 2000 doctors, so yes, that may be a factor.

  14. Jerry 2014.06.21

    Is that follow true for those counties listed in Wisconsin about wealthy areas Mr. Pay?

  15. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.06.21

    Jerry, ask ME about Wisconsin. I didn't just make that up. I lived near Waukesha for 4 months, and now I've been living 30 miles from WI for the past 7 years. MN and WI are joined at the hip. WI news is MN news, and vice versa.

    4 years ago, during the Walker recall campaign, Waukesha County was one of Walker's biggest supporters. I drove through Waukesha more than once when I was there. It's pretty easy to tell that there is plenty of moola there.

    In addition, Jerry, my friend since 3rd grade has lived in the Dairy State since the early 80s. She has a pretty good handle on the state's political demography.

    So Jerry, I know what I'm talking about. I don't just make stuff up. Lastly, I feel insulted by your question for Don. Next time just ask me what my source is.

    All right. Now I am simmered down, as my mother used to say. Ahhh.

  16. Jerry 2014.06.22

    Donald Pay had said of his support of Mary Burke as a resident in the Badger State and as I follow what you say on this blog, I knew you were from MN. A simple mistake from just a simple man.

  17. Donald Pay 2014.06.22

    Of the three counties listed in Wisconsin, two are very wealthy. Lacrosse County is less so, but not poor, and it also has great medical facilities that do community outreach.

  18. Jerry 2014.06.22

    Thank you Mr. Pay. The community outreach, in my opinion, seems to do a lot for not only addressing the immediate needs, but also to get children used to seeing doctors. This may be the key for the future as we tend to ignore some health related issues until they become huge problems. So good for those that do the outreach as they may do more in the prevention of obesity and juvenile diabetes than just waiting to treat them.

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