Report on West Virginia county health again puts Jefferson at top, McDowell at bottom

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A “snapshot” of health at West Virginia county levels shows no changes at the top and bottom of the annual list from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Again this year, Jefferson County is ranked the healthiest county in the Mountain State while McDowell County rates as the unhealthiest.

“The rankings show us that where we live makes a really big difference in how well and how long we can live and also that not everyone has the same opportunity to be healthy,” said Katrina Badger, program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In terms of health outcomes, the top five counties were as follows:

1. Jefferson County
2. Monongalia County
3. Putnam County
4. Doddridge County
5. Ohio County

The five counties determined to be the poorest in terms of health were as follows:

51. Mercer County
52. Wyoming County
53. Logan County
54. Mingo County
55. McDowell County

Overall, ost of the counties near the bottom of the list for health were in Southern West Virginia.

This year, the study focused on housing.

It found that among West Virginia’s children living in poverty, 44 percent were in a household where more than half of the total household income was spent on housing.

“If you think about spending more than half of what you make every month just to cover your housing costs, whether that’s rent or mortgage costs, that means that you have less than half of what you make to do things pay for healthy food,” Badger said.

The full rankings with explanations along with potential paths to improvements are available at

“We hope that people will really use this to identify the priorities, the biggest needs in their community, and then to do something about it,” Badger said.

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