COLUMBIA — Horry County is the 14th healthiest county in South Carolina, according to rankings released this week. Beaufort County is the healthiest place in the state, while the county with the state’s highest jobless rate is rated as the unhealthiest place to live.
The rankings by the University of Wisconsin gave Horry County high marks for its physical environment, putting it third in the state when it comes to factors such as air quality, drinking water safety and recreational opportunities. But the county’s clinical care dragged down its standing among South Carolina’s 46 counties. A high rate of uninsured residents (26 percent), as well doctor-patient and dentist-patient ratios higher than state or national averages, meant the county came in 30th in that measurement.
Horry County was also the state’s 14th healthiest county in last year’s study, an improvement over its No. 15 spot in 2010 and 2011.
Georgetown County came in at 21st this year, an improvement from last year’s No. 22 spot, but still a drop from its No. 13 spot in 2010.
Meanwhile, Beaufort County continued to come out on top due to its relatively low adult obesity rate of 21 percent, as well as an active adult population. Only 16 percent of residents in the coastal county are smokers, researchers said, compared with 21 percent across the state overall.
Beaufort has been ranked as South Carolina’s healthiest county since at least 2010, according to researchers.
Marion County was listed as the state’s unhealthiest county, with an adult obesity rate of 38 percent. According to the study, South Carolina’s overall adult obesity rate is 31 percent.
The counties’ health rankings mirror their jobless rates. Coastal Beaufort County, typically home to one of the lowest rates in the state, marked 7.7 percent unemployment in January – a full percentage point lower than the 8.7 percent statewide rate.
Marion County’s unemployment was South Carolina’s highest in January, at 19.2 percent.
State officials have made tackling obesity, and the myriad of health issues that accompany it, a major focus this year. Last month, the director of South Carolina’s Department of Social Services said she had asked the federal agency that administers the food stamp program to start discussing ways to change it, in the hopes of making sure people use the benefits for healthy food.
The Sun News contributed to this report.