Falls Church, Virginia, is the healthiest community in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report's inaugural Healthiest Communities Rankings.
For the rankings, U.S. News and the Aetna Foundation evaluated and scored around 3,000 U.S. counties and county equivalents in 10 categories that the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics considers to be key factors in community health:
- Population health, weighted 14.15%;
- Equity, weighted 12.23%;
- Education, weighted 12.15%;
- Economy, weighted 11.08%;
- Housing, weighted 9.46%;
- Food & nutrition, weighted 8.77%;
- Environment, weighted 8.62%;
- Public safety, weighted 8.46%.
- Community vitality, weighted 7.62%; and
- Infrastructure, weighted 7.46%.
Each county was scored on a scale of zero to 100 in each of the 10 categories. The researchers then used those scores to identify the top 500 healthiest communities.
Mark Bertolini, chair of the Aetna Foundation as well as chair and CEO of health insurer Aetna, said the goal of the rankings is to highlight best practices while also showing areas for potential improvement. "Research has shown that in the United States, your ZIP code is a greater predictor of your life expectancy than your genetic code," he said, adding, "In other words, where you live has a significant impact."
The healthiest communities in the US
The top 10 healthiest communities in the United States, according to U.S. News, are:
- Falls Church, Virginia;
- Douglas County, Colorado;
- Broomfield County, Colorado;
- Los Alamos County, New Mexico;
- Dukes County, Massachusetts;
- Fairfax city, Virginia;
- Hamilton County, Indiana;
- Routt County, Colorado;
- Ouray County, Colorado; and
- Loudoun County, Virginia.
For complete rankings, including a list of the 500 healthiest communities according to U.S. News, click here.
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U.S. News also ranked the counties alongside their "peers" based on urban-rural status and economic performance. The winners in each of those categories were:
- Urban, high-performing: Falls Church, Virginia;
- Urban, up-and-coming: Island County, Washington;
- Rural, high-performing: Routt County, Colorado; and
- Rural, up-and-coming: Jefferson County, Washington.
Finally, U.S. News named an honor roll featuring 36 U.S. communities that showcase the "health-related success of communities across the country." The 36 communities varied widely in population, from 2,000 to nearly one million, and had a median household income gap of over $80,000. Together, the 36 communities had an average life expectancy of 81 years and had health insurance coverage of over 90% (Rossman, USA Today, 3/26; U.S. News & World Report list, accessed 3/27; U.S. News & World Report methodology, accessed 3/27; U.S. News & World Report urban, high-performing list, accessed 3/27; U.S. News & World Report urban, up-and-coming list, accessed 3/27; U.S. News & World Report rural, high-performing list, accessed 3/27; U.S. News & World Report rural, up-and-coming list, accessed 3/27; U.S. News & World Report honor roll, accessed 3/27).
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