Beaufort, Charleston counties among healthiest in state

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County has been named the sixth healthiest county in the state by a University of Wisconsin study.

The study ranks environmental, livability, and socio-economic factors for every county in the nation.  Apart from Charleston, the study says the tri-county area and coast, boast high levels of overall health. Dorchester County is ranked fifth; Berkeley County is seventh and Beaufort County is first.

"We can look at what [University of Wisconsin] has done and look at the health indicators for our county to see how to improve the health of citizens in our area," said Dennis Thompson of the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Thompson says Charleston county's geographic relationship to major health care providers -- Roper, Trident, and MUSC -- coupled with a dominant presence of outdoor recreational activities, are responsible for the high ranking.  He points to No. 46, Lee County, as a counterpoint.

"I don't believe they have a hospital in Lee County anymore," said Thompson.  "People that need medical care have to leave their own county."

Thompson says health is also a sign of the times.  Job loss and economic strain has less affluent counties catering to fast food, while Charleston County boasts an array of fresh and whole food markets.

"These outside factors not directly related to physical health have an impact on an individuals well being as well," said Thompson.

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