Rappahannock residents are healthier than the statewide average, according to a new study called County Health Rankings, published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Among Virginia’s 132 counties and cities studied, Rappahannock County ranked 20th in the social and economic factors necessary for good health, including the high school graduation rate, number of children living in poverty and violent crime rate.
The county ranked 29th in behavioral factors associated with good health: low rates of smoking, obesity, binge drinking, chlamydia, and teenage child births.
In terms of health outcomes, the study measured mortality, which it defined as premature deaths before age 75, and morbidity — or how healthy people feel about their lives.
In this latter quality-of-life category, the county came in 33rd in the state. In mortality, it ranked 52nd.
But in terms of the availability of clinical care – another health factor that was measured – Rappahannock ranked near the very bottom at 118th.
Oddly enough, the county also ranked low – 97th – in the way the study measured the physical environment as a health factor, due apparently to the lack of supermarkets that carry healthy foods. (Of course, there are no supermarkets at all in the county, as much of its land is devoted to raising the type of foods considered healthy in counties that do have supermarkets.)
In addition, the county occasionally experiences unhealthy levels of air pollution, particularly as measured by ozone levels.
In the words of the County Health Rankings, their findings “show us that where we live matters.” The goal of this first of its kind collection of 50 reports – one per state – is to help community leaders understand that where people live influences how healthy they are and how long they live. These reports are a key component of the so-called MATCH project – Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health – created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin.
For more, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org.