For the second year in a row, Loudoun County has been rated the healthiest county in Virginia.
The County Health Rankings come from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, and was released March 29.
“These results show the value of the great work that Loudoun residents, businesses, healthcare providers and government partners have done to focus on the increasing and changing needs of the county’s rapidly growing and diversifying communities,” said Loudoun County Health Director Dr. David Goodfriend in a statement. “It also shows where work still needs to be done. While we are first overall, Loudoun ranked 18th in the clinical care category and only 131st in physical environment.”
Counties and county equivalents in all 50 states are ranked according to summaries of a variety of health measures, and those receiving high ranks are considered to be the “healthiest.” Counties are ranked relative to the health of other counties in the same state. The rankings take into account length of life, quality of life, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.
The top five healthiest counties and equivalents in Virginia this year were Loudoun, Fairfax, Arlington and Albermarle Counties and Poquoson City.
The bottom five beginning with the worst were Emporia City, Petersburg City, Martinsville City, Bristol City and Covington City.
“The County Health Rankings show us that where people live plays a key role in how long and how well they live,” said RWJF president and CEO Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey in a statement. “The rankings allow local leaders to clearly see and prioritize the challenges they face — whether it’s rising premature death rates or the growing drug overdose epidemic — so they can bring community leaders and residents together to find solutions.”
According to Loudoun’s rankings the past two years, obesity has stayed the same at 22 percent of the population. Smoking, alcohol-impaired driving deaths and teen births have decreased but sexually transmitted infections have increased. Air pollution has gotten better but the county continues to have water violations. Preventable hospital stays went down from 47 to 41.
The rankings also reveal that drug overdose deaths are fueling a dramatic increase in premature deaths nationally. Drug deaths are also accelerating among 15- to-24-year olds. However, nearly three times as many people in this age group die by homicide, suicide or in motor vehicle crashes, according to the study.
Loudoun has consistently ranked in the top tier of Virginia counties since the County Health Rankings began in 2009. The county has a number of initiatives underway to expand health opportunities for residents, including its Health Council, Lyme Disease Commission, Pediatric Obesity Coalition, and the Live Healthy Loudoun initiative.