The third annual County Health Rankings, released this past week by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, indicates that Fairfax County has the healthiest residents in Virginia while the city of Petersburg ranks as the least healthy locality in the state.
According to the 2012 Rankings, the five healthiest localities in Virginia, starting with most healthy, are Fairfax County, followed by Arlington, Loudoun, and Albemarle counties. The five localities in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are the city of Petersburg, the city of Emporia, Buchanan County, Dickenson County and the city of Franklin.
Locally, Montgomery County was ranked 32nd, Roanoke County 33rd, and Salem 35th. The city of Radford ranked 68th, and Giles County 77th. On the opposite end of the spectrum was Wythe County at 94th and Pulaski County 119th. Roanoke City was ranked 116th.
The County Health Rankings ranks the overall health of nearly every locality in all 50 states, using a standard method to measure how healthy people are and how long they live. Localities’ health were ranked on two sets of measures: health outcomes (length and quality of life); and weighted health factors [health behaviors (30%), access to and quality of clinical care (20%), social and economic factors (40%), and the physical environment (10%).]
“Where we live, learn, work and play influence health and longevity,” said State Health Commissioner Karen Remley, MD, MBA, FAAP. “This annual checkup helps bring community leaders together to identify the strengths in their communities as well as evaluate where to focus their efforts to make improvements.”
This year’s Rankings includes several new measures, such as how many fast food restaurants are in a locality and levels of physical inactivity among residents. Graphs illustrating premature death trends over 10 years are new as well. Also new this year, the County Health Roadmaps help localities to mobilize and take action to create healthier communities.
“The Rankings helps us identify what’s making people sick or healthy,” said Dr. Remley. “Taken together, the Rankings & Roadmaps will help businesses, health care providers, government, consumers, local health departments and community leaders create a healthier Commonwealth.”