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Three local counties ranked among the top 10 healthiest in Virginia

Three local counties were in the top 10 list of  a new report ranked by several health factors including  education, access to health care, and unemployment.

The report just released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin researchers  declared Fairfax County the healthiest area overall, followed by Arlington  Loudoun, both in northern Virginia; Albemarle,  York, Alexandria, James City, and Mathews at #10

The annual report identifies the healthiest and unhealthiest counties in all 50 states. Researchers use federal and state statistics and surveys to compile the lists.

The study also looked at behaviors that influence health like smoking and exercise, and other factors, such as education, air pollution, and access to physicians and healthy food.

Among other local areas: ; Poquoson was 27th; Virginia Beach was 29th; New Kent County was 30th; Chesapeake was 39th; Isle of Wight was 43rd; Gloucester was 48th; Charles City was 55th; Hampton was 66th; Suffolk was 69th;  Newport News was 80th; Surry was 87th; Norfolk was 106th; Portsmouth was 110th and the city of Franklin was 127th.

imageAt the bottom of the list is the city of Petersburg, whose premature death rate was more than double the state average and four times higher than Fairfax County. Petersburg 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.

Others among the unhealthiest areas were the city of Emporia, Buchanan County, Dickenson County, and the city of Franklin.

Fairfax wasn’t perfect, either.

One of the report’s categories is physical environment, including air pollution, access to recreational facilities and healthy foods, and the number of fast-food restaurants.

Although the category wasn’t given significant weight in the report, Fairfax County had the highest number of days annually with unhealthy air quality due to ozone and particulate matter.

Several new measures in this year’s report include how many fast-food restaurants a county has, the levels of physical inactivity among residents, and premature death trends over the previous decade.

In about half of the counties and municipalities, at least 50 percent of the restaurants were of the fast-food variety.

For the full reports, go to www.countyhealth rankings.org.

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