New Study Rates Knox as a Fairly Healthy County With Lousy Air

The 2010 County Health Rankings, a first of its kind study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, ranked Knox County #2 in health factors compared to the other 94 counties in Tennessee. Here are a few of the fairly favorable Knox County stats that figured in:

A #5 of 95 combined rank for health behaviors such as...

• Adults who report smoking at least 100 cigarettes and currently smoke: 22%

• Adults who report binge drinking in the past 30 days: 11%

• Teen birth rate: 39 per 1,000 (ages 15-19)

A #5 of 95 combined rank for social and economic factors such as...

• Population age 25+ with four-year college degree or higher: 32%

• Children under age 18 in poverty: 16%

• Single-parent households: 9%

All is well until we come to that pesky physical environment thing, where Knox County is ranked 94th of 95 counties in the state. You can blame our annual number of unhealthy air-quality days—eight compared to the state's two—on fine particulate matter or our 47 percent access to healthy foods. Or maybe, just maybe, it's our "liquor store density." We've got one per 10,000; the rest of the state averages .8.