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When It Comes To Health, Rural Areas Getting Left Behind

Today the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released its seventh annual County Health Rankings, which, despite their name, aren’t a competition between U.S. counties to see who’s the best at health. Rather, the report exists to assess all the counties in the U.S. based on factors ranging from tobacco use and access to healthcare to air quality and even education. People can then start solving problems at a local level, and put a priority on addressing their own communities’ main issues.

Most of the findings are, as always, more than a little disturbing: Drug overdose deaths are up 79% since 2002. 33% of American adults don’t get enough sleep (and even in the most well-rested counties, 23% still don’t sleep enough). Obesity, smoking and long commutes are all still major problems.

But on the whole and for most of the country, the report doesn’t look terrible. Generally speaking, premature death numbers–a key indicator of overall community health–have been steadily going down. That is, unless you live in a rural area.