Dukes County ranks top 5 in healthiest communities

Henrietta Strickland
March 27, 2018

Rounding out the top 10 are Los Alamos County, N.M., near Santa Fe; Dukes County, Mass., home to Martha's Vineyard; and Hamilton County, Ind., north of Indianapolis.

Fairfax City came in at No. 6 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings; Loudoun County ranked 10th.

The survey, conducted by U.S. News & World Report and the Aetna Foundation, ranked almost 3,000 counties and independent cities across 10 categories: community vitality, equity, economy, education, environment, food and nutrition, population health, housing, infrastructure and public safety. It determines how well all members of a community are afforded the ability to live a healthy and productive life. Although it ranked higher than the state average in cancer, it still scored high on overall population health and community vitality.

Aetna Foundation Chairman Mark T. Bertolini said the aim of the list is to highlight best practices and show areas where they can improve.

"Mayor David Tarter was quoted in the U.S. News article saying about Falls Church "'It's a small place that a lot of people don't know about really, but it's got a great quality of life, and it's just a little bit like Mayberry", he said. He referred to their focus on students' mental health, healthy eating, physical fitness, exercise classes, farmers markets, walkable streets and bike paths. It's teen birth rate was higher than the state average, as was the percentage of Medicare recipients with depression. Falls Church is No. 1, ranking in the top three communities nationally for education, economy and public safety.

The project scores almost 3,000 counties on approximately 80 indicators across 10 categories that drive health outcomes.

The county is also dinged because it has 14 days a year of extreme heat, higher than the state and national averages.

To compile its rankings, U.S. News and the Aetna Foundation analyzed about 3,000 U.S. counties in 10 categories, almost all of which are considered key indicators of an area's health by the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, an advisory body to the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services.

The rankings are based on 80 metrics drawn from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "There's an emphasis on things the government can do to encourage people to be more healthy".

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