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Health: Summary & Data Highlights


  • For adults, Seattle had the highest rates of both excessive drinking and binge drinking.
  • Almost 2 in 5 King County 12th graders reported using alcohol in the past 30 days.

Childhood Health Risks

  • Abuse and family dysfunction in childhood are linked to smoking, excessive drinking, obesity, frequent mental distress, and other adverse health outcomes in adulthood.
  • Compared to teens in East Region, South Region teens experienced more risk factors that increase their chances of making poor lifestyle choices.


  • 1 in 5 King County adults belong to the county’s largest minority group – people with disabilities.  Membership in this group can change with time and circumstance.  Most adults will have a disability at some point in their lives.
  • King County adults with activity limitations were half as likely as those without limitations to graduate from college.

Enriching Activities

  • Although most King County adults participate in activities that enrich their lives, those at lower income and education levels reported less active participation.
  • While 3 out of 4 adults participate in sports and physical activities, only 1 in 4 dances or makes music.

Health Insurance

  • In 2015, 6% of King County residents were not insured (8% of working-age adults and 2% of children).
  • After implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the percentage of King County residents with no insurance dropped by half.  
  • Despite great improvements in health insurance coverage since implementation of the Affordable Care Act, large disparities persist.

Infant Mortality

  • Infants in South Region are more likely than those in East Region to die before their 1st birthday. 
  • Infants in high-poverty neighborhoods are more likely than those in low-poverty neighborhoods to die before their 1st birthday.  Since 2001, however, infant mortality has declined significantly only in high-poverty neighborhoods.

Obesity / Overweight

  • Since 1990, the rate of overweight among King County adults stayed about the same (about 1 in 3); over the same period, however, the rate of obesity more than tripled (to 1 in 5).
  • Because the obesity rate was so low among Asians (6%), and because Asians represented a much larger proportion of the population of King County than of the U.S. (14.6% vs. 4.8%, respectively, in 2010), King County’s overall obesity rate of 21% masked significant racial and ethnic group disparities.

Physical Activity

  • Adults at the highest education and income levels were most likely to meet physical activity standards.
  • As they moved through middle school and high school, youth became less physically active; by 12th grade only about 1 in 6 met federal physical activity standards.
  • About half of King County’s 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students spent at least 3 hours a day watching TV, playing video games, or using a computer for fun (data not shown).


  • Adults born outside the U.S. reported higher stress levels than those born in the U.S.
  • People of color had higher stress scores than whites.

Teen Births

  • Teen births to Latinas have fallen to new lows in King County.  Nevertheless, substantial disparities by race/ethnicity persist.
  • Girls in high-poverty neighborhoods were 6.5 times more likely than those in low-poverty neighborhoods to give birth before they were 18 years old.


  • In the year 2015, 12% of King County adults were current smokers. The rate of adult smoking declined for almost 20 years.