City, County Among Healthiest In State

Posted: March 20, 2013

Harrisonburg and Rockingham County are among the healthiest communities in Virginia, according to a new report released Wednesday on the health of 133 cities and counties in Virginia.

The county came in at No. 11 in the report that ranked 133 of the commonwealth’s cities and counties. Highland County was the only locality in the state not rated due to a lack of key data.

The report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin researchers, ranked Harrisonburg 17th.

The study ranked counties and cities by several health factors, including obesity, smoking, teen birth rate and access to health care, as well as other areas such as education, poverty and unemployment.

The report found that eight percent of city residents are in “poor or fair health,” while five percent of the city’s adults smoke. Harrisonburg did not fare as well in other areas, including obesity, a growing problem nationwide. The report found that 29 percent of adults are obese. That’s slightly worse than the national benchmark of 25 percent and about the same as the state’s 28 percent.

In Rockingham County, the report calculated that 11 percent of the population is in poor or fair health” and 13 percent of adults smoke — identical to the national benchmark. The report found that 27 percent of county residents are obese.

Municipalities in northern Virginia fared best as a region, while their counterparts in the southern part of the state were deemed the state’s unhealthiest areas.

The report declared Fairfax County the healthiest area overall, followed by Loudoun, Arlington, Albemarle and York.

At the bottom of the list is the city of Petersburg, whose rate of premature death was more than double the state average. It also was last in behaviors such as adult smoking and obesity and physical inactivity, and worst in social and economic factors such as education, unemployment and poverty.

— Wire And Staff Reports

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