Watauga County ranks the second healthiest in NC, according to the fifth annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). The Rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
“We are celebrating this wonderful news about Watauga County, but we also are continuing to work towards even higher goals beyond this achievement. These measures offer us another reminder that where we live matters to our health and multiple factors influence the health of our communities,” said Beth Lovette, Health Director at Appalachian District Health Department.
The County Health Rankings rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states. The Rankings allow counties to see how well they are doing on 29 factors that influence health including smoking, high school graduation rates, employment, physical inactivity, and access to healthy foods.
In our area, Avery ranked 16th in the survey, while Ashe was 41st, Alleghany was 66th, Mitchell 67th, with Caldwell the 70th ranked for health and Wilkes 74th out of 100 counties.
According to the 2014 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in NC, starting with most healthy, are Wake, followed by Watauga, Orange, Union, and Camden. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Columbus, Halifax, Scotland, Robeson, Vance, and Bertie.
“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s vision for a culture of health is one where everyone has the opportunity to be healthy,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “The County Health Rankings are a starting point for change, helping communities come together, identify priorities, and create solutions that will help all in our diverse society live healthier lives, now and for generations to come.”
The Rankings highlight some of the key issues that were noted in the most recent State of Health report, including obesity, the uninsured population, and burden of chronic diseases which are among the leading causes of death in the county like heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease.
The Rankings provide county-to-county comparisons within a state. Nationally, this year’s Rankings show that people living in the least healthy counties are twice as likely to have shorter lives as people living in the healthiest counties. Unhealthy counties also have twice as many children living in poverty and twice as many teen births as the healthiest counties. This year’s Rankings also feature several new measures including housing, transportation, and access to mental health providers.
“We know that when we work together, we can achieve great outcomes. We see the High Country United Way Vision Council being a large part of this effort as there is energy and shared leadership behind improving health, education, and income in the community together. Seeing the results of this year’s ranking gives us much to celebrate, but much to work towards as well,” said Jennifer Greene, Director of Allied Health Services at Appalachian District Health Department.
To learn more and obtain a copy of the State of Health report in the county visit www.apphealth.com or contact the local office of Appalachian District Health Department at (828) 264-4995 where you can learn more and become involved.