Liz McCormick Published

McDowell Ranked as Least Healthy County in W.Va.


A new ranking of West Virginia Counties based on health outcomes shows Jefferson County ranks among the best and McDowell among the worst.

According to County Health Rankings – released Wednesday, March 16, by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin – West Virginia’s top five healthiest counties are Jefferson, Putnam, Monongalia, Pleasants, and Tucker. And the counties with the poorest health outcomes, beginning with the least healthy, are McDowell, Wyoming, Mingo, Logan, and Mercer.

Aliana Havrilla is a Community Coach with County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.  She says rural counties, like those listed as the least healthy, have higher rates of smoking, obesity, child poverty, and teen births than their urban counterparts.

“One of the key findings was that the premature death rate is higher in rural areas and has been on the rise for more than a decade, and this is an urgent issue, because, not only in West Virginia, but in two-thirds of all counties in the U.S. are rural geography,” Havrilla said.

Havrilla says there is a silver-lining however. She says by knowing these rankings, counties can work to improve their health outcomes.

“It’s an opportunity to invite new partners to the table, think about health broadly,” she noted, “So pull together leaders in education, business, and community development to think about what opportunities exist to take action.”

For more information on the state’s health rankings, visit

Appalachia Helth News

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.