Health Study: Dakota County Rich in Doctors, Fast Food Restaurants

Dakota was ranked the 15th healthiest county in Minnesota, thanks to lower mortality rates and high quality "clinical care," but lagged with respect to physical environment factors such as pollution and fast food restaurants.

Dakota County is a relatively healthy place to live, statistically speaking.

Of 87 Minnesota counties, Dakota was ranked 15th for overall health, according to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Wisconsin Population Health Institute released Wednesday. Dakota had the fifth-lowest premature death rate and was ranked fourth in the quality of its clinical care, with far more doctors per capita than the state average.

The county also stood out for its healthy behavior, a category in which it was ranked eighth. Dakota County residents smoke less, exercise more, experience fewer vehicle crashes and are less likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease. Plus, its teens are less likely to give birth.

But the county lagged somewhat in physical enviornment factors, registering more pollutants and fast food restaurants than the state average.

The study rated counties in two categories of “health outcomes” and four categories of “health factors” that influence those outcomes.

Dakota's neighbor, Scott County, ranked fifth in overall health. Rice County, though not in the top 20 for overall health, was ranked number one for healthy behaviors. Washington County was ranked first in the overall category of health factors.

The healthiest counties were concentrated in south-central Minnesota, with a number in close proximity to the Mayo Clinic, and the richest parts of the metro area. The least healthy counties are clustered in northern Minnesota. The bottom five are poor, almost entirely rural counties. The last two, Cass and Mahnomen, are stricken with poverty. In both, over 50 percent of the children are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

This is the fourth year the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Wisconsin Population Health Institute have released rankings.

“The County Health Rankings can be put to use right away by leaders in government, business, health care, and every citizen motivated to work together to create a culture of health in their community,” a news release quoted Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation president and CEO. “The Rankings are driving innovation, unleashing creativity, and inspiring big changes to improve health in communities large and small throughout the country.”

Use the search boxes above to look at Minnesota counties’ rankings, or browse some highlights from the report below, including side-by-side comparisons with Dakota's neighbors. Click here to look at the data in even greater detail.

Overall Health Ranking

  • Carver: 1st 
  • Scott: 5th
  • Le Sueur: 11th
  • Dakota: 15th
  • Rice: 22nd
  • Sibley: 44th
  • Hennepin: 55th


  • Carver: Second (Behind Yellow Medicine)
  • Scott: Third
  • Dakota: Fifth
  • Rice: Sixth
  • Le Sueur: 17th
  • Sibley: 27th
  • Hennepin: 40th


  • Le Sueur: 21st
  • Carver: 23rd
  • Scott: 36th
  • Dakota: 44th
  • Rice: 57th
  • Sibley: 69th 
  • Hennepin: 74th

Health Behaviors

  • Rice: 1st
  • Hennepin: 4th
  • Scott: Fifth
  • Carver: Sixth
  • Dakota: 8th
  • Le Sueur: 29th
  • Sibley: 37th

Clinical Care

  • Dakota: 4th
  • Carver: 7th
  • Hennepin: 9th
  • Rice: 16th
  • Scott: 31st
  • Le Sueur: 57th
  • Sibley: 85th

Social and Economic

  • Carver: First
  • Scott: Third
  • Dakota: 7th
  • Sibley: 55th
  • Le Sueur: 57th
  • Rice: 62nd
  • Hennepin: 73rd

Physical Environment

  • Le Sueur: 3rd
  • Sibley: 19th
  • Carver: 35th
  • Hennepin: 54th
  • Scott: 56th
  • Dakota: 58th
  • Rice: 65th


  • Rice: 9 percent
  • Sibley: 12 percent
  • Le Sueur: 14 percent
  • Scott: 15 percent 
  • Carver: 15 percent
  • Hennepin: 15 percent
  • Dakota: 16 percent

Adult Obesity

  • Hennepin: 21 percent
  • Rice: 24 percent
  • Scott: 25 percent
  • Carver: 26 percent
  • Dakota: 26 percent
  • Le Sueur: 30 percent
  • Sibley: 30 percent

Physical Inactivity

  • Hennepin: 16 percent
  • Rice: 17 percent
  • Scott: 17 percent
  • Carver: 17 percent
  • Dakota: 17 percent
  • Le Sueur: 22 percent
  • Sibley: 24 percent

Excessive Drinking

  • Rice: 15 percent
  • Le Sueur: 17 percent
  • Hennepin: 19 percent
  • Dakota: 20 percent
  • Scott: 22 percent
  • Carver: 25 percent
  • Sibley: No data


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