Lamar County ranked third healthiest in the state

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Lamar County is the No. 3 healthiest county in Mississippi, according to a study by SmartAsset, a financial technology company based in New York.

Lamar County was ranked third behind Madison and Rankin counties based on four different criteria decided by the company.

SmartAsset officials said the study aims to find the healthiest places in the country by analyzing life expectancy, “which is the ultimate determinant of the price one pays for life insurance.” The three factors that were stressed in the study were length of life, health behaviors and healthcare access.

“The first factor we considered was the premature death rate in a county, specifically the years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 residents,” the company said. “This provides an inverse measure of life expectancy. In other words, this number shows the rate at which people die before the age of 75. We indexed this factor to generate the Length of Life Index.”

The health behaviors for each county looked at the percentage of adults that are current smokers, the percentage of adults that are obese and the percentage of adults that report binge or heavy drinking. Those percentages were set to a scale of 0 to 100, took a weighted average, then indexed the final number to generate the Health Behaviors Index.

Access to healthcare was figured by the number of primary care physicians per 100,000 residents, the uninsured rate – or the percentage of population under age 65 without health insurance. The final number after indexing the percentages generated the Healthcare Access Index.

The three individual indices were weighted with 50 percent for Length of Life, 30 percent for Health Behaviors and 20 percent for Healthcare Access.

Lamar finished with a rating of 67.84, while Madison was first at 71.37 and Rankin second at 68.76. Rounding out the Top 10 were DeSoto (64.75), Oktibbeha (62.80), Choctaw (62.52), Jackson (62.20), Lee (62.25), Pontotoc (62.09) and Union (61.90).

Of the Top 3 healthiest counties, Lamar County had the most adult obesity and excessive drinking, but it led the Top 10 in the number of primary care physicians per 100,000 people.