Loudoun has again been rated as the healthiest county in Virginia.
That’s according to the eighth annual County Health Rankings released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Loudoun has consistently ranked in the top tier of Virginia counties since the County Health Rankings began. The study found Northern Virginians generally are very healthy, with Fairfax County coming in second and Arlington ranked third.
“These results show the value of the great work that Loudoun residents, businesses, health care 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. “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.”
Also among those areas that need some work: drug overdoses.
The rankings reveal that drug overdose deaths are fueling a dramatic increase in premature deaths nationally because of an increase in deaths among 15- to 44-year-olds. Drug-related 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.
The County Health Rankings are designed to be an easy-to-use snapshot that compares counties within states.
“The County Health Rankings show us that where people live plays a key role in how long and how well they live,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “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.”
The study’s authors say it demonstrates that good health is influenced by many factors beyond medical care, including housing, education, jobs, access to healthy foods, among other factors.
Loudoun 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. More information is available at livehealthyloudoun.org.
The unhealthiest locality in Virginia? Emporia City, the second-smallest city in Virginia with an estimated population of 5,305, comes in last out of 133 cities and counties. Emporia is in south central Virginia in Greensville County.
The full rankings are available at countyhealthrankings.org.