Top 10

Top 10 for Health Outcomes

1. Beaufort

2. York

3. Lexington

4. Edgefield

5. Greenville

6. Charleston

7. Dorchester

8. Berkeley

9. Richland

10. Kershaw

Source: 2014 County Health Rankings

Charleston County residents are fairly healthy compared with residents in other South Carolina counties, but we can't seem to beat Beaufort.

Bottom 10

Bottom 10 for Health Outcomes

37. Colleton

38. Chester

39. Williamsburg

40. Orangeburg

41. Darlington

42. Lee

43. Dillon

44. Bamberg

45. Marlboro

46. Marion

Source: 2014 County Health Rankings

Beaufort County was ranked healthiest in the state for at least the fifth year running, according to the new County Health Rankings released Wednesday. Marion County took last place this year.

"The top five and bottom five are pretty similar to last year," said Allison Rapp, a research associate for the S.C. Institute of Medicine and Public Health. "They've moved within each other, but there are no major surprises in terms of which counties are at the top and which counties are at the bottom."

County Health Rankings are released annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The County Health Rankings' website includes data dating back to 2010. Beaufort County has been ranked first in South Carolina every year since then.

The report is based on a variety of factors that influence health, including premature death, income, air quality and education. For example, the new report shows that 22 percent of adults in Beaufort County are obese, compared with an average 32 percent in South Carolina. In Charleston, 23 percent of adults reported excessive drinking, compared with an average 14 percent across the state. These are just two of many factors that researchers weighed to determine the overall rankings.

The report includes two lists for each state - health outcomes and health factors. Rapp explained that health outcomes offer a picture of today's health and health factors can predict what tomorrow's health will be. Beaufort County earned the top spot on both lists.

The report does not compare counties across state lines. For example, there is no way to compare the health of a South Carolina county against a North Carolina county or determine which states are healthier.

"It gets everyone's attention," said Megan Weis, associate director of outreach and program development for the Institute of Medicine and Public Health. "But also sometimes people get focused on the top versus the bottom, but what we'd really like to see is for the rankings to be used as conversation starter."

Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties ranked among the top 10 healthiest counties in this state.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.