FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Fairfield County is the third-healthiest county in the state, according to a new study. The County Health Rankings based its assessment of the county’s health according to health behaviors, social and economic factors, physical environment and clinical care.
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation compiled the state-by-state rankings of more than 3,000 counties across the country. Overall, Fairfield County came in third in the state, after Tolland and Middlesex counties, respectively.
Fairfield County ranks first in the state in health behaviors. The study puts the county’s obesity rate at 18 percent, while the rest of the state lies at 23 percent and the national average is 25 percent. A large part of that likely has to do with the fact that more adults in Fairfield County are active in their free time; 20 percent of residents report no physical activity during their leisure time, compared with 21 percent nationwide and 23 percent in the rest of Connecticut.
Residents of Fairfield County have also stayed away from cigarettes. Only 13 percent of adults smoke, compared with 16 percent in the rest of the state and 14 percent across the country.
Social and economic factors play a part in how residents keep themselves healthy. Fairfield County is below the state average in unemployment, high school dropouts, children living in poverty and children in single-parent homes. There are also fewer fast-food restaurants and much higher access to recreational facilities.
The county’s health habits aren’t perfect, though. Its 20 percent rate of excessive drinking is higher than the state average of 18 percent, and much higher than the national average of 8 percent. And while Fairfield County’s rate of 274 sexually transmitted infections per 100,000 people is much lower than the state average of 346, it is far more than the national average of 84.
Fairfield County has slightly more uninsured residents (11 percent) than the rest of the state (10 percent). Residents have more access to primary-care physicians and report fewer preventable hospital stays. However, the county’s residents have lower rates of screening for diabetes and breast cancer.