Martinis and Medicine

Central Texas: We're pretty healthy, but we're still pretty boozy, too

Central Texas: We're pretty healthy, but we're pretty boozy, too

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Travis County boasts the highest rate of excessive drinkers among the top 50 counties reporting.

Central Texans are still among the healthiest folks in the state. Williamson, Travis and Hays all ranked in the top 10 of the healthiest counties in Texas, despite the three racking up higher than average "excessive drinking" rates.

The rankings are part of an annual study done by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The study, called County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, measures vital health factors including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, the quality of air and water, income, and teen births, among others.

Williamson County, which leads the Texas pack at No. 2, boasts lower rates for uninsured (17 percent), physical inactivity (20 percent) and children living in poverty (11 percent), than both the Texas and national averages.

Our neighbors to the north also boast higher education and lower unemployment rates, both critical factors in determining the economy and culture of a healthy region.

In unsurprising, but no less shocking, news, Williamson County has an adult obesity rate of 27 percent, coming in higher than the national average (only about 25 percent of Americans are obese), but still lower than most of Texas. Despite that distinction, Williamson County still managed to grab the second healthiest ranking in Texas. 

Hays and Travis Counties came in at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively. While Hays County has a lower than average rate of adult smokers, it still ranks high on adult obesity (30 percent) and excessive drinking (18 percent). Hays County does have more insured residents and a lower instance of premature death.

Here in Travis County, we have an excessive drinking rate of 22 percent, the highest reported among the top 50 counties. (Wilson County outside of San Antonio also has an excessive drinking rate of 22 percent.)

Ever the contradiction, Travis County has a near perfect score for access to exercise opportunities. We also have a highly educated population, as well as low rates of physical inactivity, adult smokers and adult obesity.