Even with an adult obesity rate of 28 percent, York County ranked as the fifth healthiest locality in Virginia, as rated by the Robert Wood Johnson and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in its annual "County Health Rankings & Roadmaps," released Wednesday. The rankings only compare cities and counties within a state and do not offer a national analysis.
The top three spots went to Northern Virginia localities, followed by Albemarle County, then York, with James City County in the number six spot. Other Hampton Roads localities that scored well included Poquoson (#21) and Isle of Wight (#36). The lowest-scoring in the region were Surry (#72), Hampton (#77), Newport News (#80) and Williamsburg (#88).
In comparing health outcomes for 133 localities in Virginia, the sponsoring organizations allotted a 40 percent score among weighted categories to socioeconomic factors. Other indicators included health behaviors, such as physical activity, smoking and drinking (30 percent); access to clinical care, particularly primary care doctors (20 percent); and the physical environment (10 percent). The other set of measures involved length and quality of life.
The biggest disparity in reported outcomes in neighboring communities emerged between James City County and Williamsburg. Williamsburg reported almost double the premature death rate of its neighbor, but scored well on low smoking rates and had better preventable hospital stay numbers.
The major differences were in socioeconomics, with Williamsburg having more than twice the unemployment rate, 14 percent, of James City County's 5 percent; and double the number of children living in poverty, single-parent households and violent crime. Williamsburg actually scored better than the county in access to healthy foods and fewer fast food outlets. The city also had several categories with no data reported, which may have skewed the results.
Both Newport News and Hampton tipped the scales on obesity at 34 percent and 37 percent, respectively, well above the state's 28 percent average and had high teen birth rates of 49 percent and 39 percent. Both cities also registered sexually transmitted infections around three times higher than the state average.
The "County Health Rankings & Roadmaps" is intended for use as a tool to improve the health of communities where weaknesses are exposed.
Want a healthier community?
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation "Roadmaps to Health Prize" is now calling for applications. It will award six prizes of $25,000 for community health improvement plans. The deadline is May 23, 2013. For information and an application, go to http://www.countyhealthrankings.org and click on Roadmaps.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun