Some places are better known for their health and life expectancy than others, and US News & World Report’s “Healthiest Communities 2022” ranking shows how nearly 3,000 US communities performed in this regard.
The rating is based on variables consisting of 89 metrics divided into ten health-related categories, each of which was evaluated on a scale from 0 to 100 for each community. Some of the traits measured were life expectancy, food availability, infrastructure, community vitality, and public safety in addition to environmental factors. Other factors included housing and equality of access to health care in each community.
Knowing how certain factors create a healthier community is a powerful initiative to direct resources properly and can inform residents, community health leaders, and officials about policies and best practices to create healthier communities.
Los Alamos County, New Mexico
Los Alamos County in the state of New Mexico was ranked as the healthiest community in the United States, scoring 90 or above (on a scale of 100) in population health, housing, and infrastructure. It achieved that same number one ranking in 2021 as well. The two largest towns within the county are Los Alamos (population about 13,200) and White Rock (population about 5,800).
With lots of opportunities to go outdoors and enjoy the vast mountain ranges, diverse wildlife, and clean air, the environment contributes to Los Alamos’s place at the top of the list.
Falls Church, Virginia
The suburban city of Falls Church, Virginia, conveniently located a few miles from Washington, DC, is ranked second on the list for 2022.
(It ranked third in 2021.) Scoring 90 or more in population health, education, economics, and infrastructure, this suburb with a population of under 15,000 persons has cultural centers and beautiful parks and trails, combining history and culture with outdoor activities.
Douglas County, Colorado
Third in the ranking, Douglas County offers visitors and residents access to the two largest cities in the state, Denver and Colorado Springs. Scoring 90 or more in economics, population health, and infrastructure, the county has extensive forests and trails with many possibilities for outdoor recreation, in addition to the facilities and amenities of living in a city. The county has a population of about 360,000 people, and its largest town is Castle Rock (population about 73,000), which has grown rapidly in the last decade.
Quite a few other US communities ranked highly in the survey due to strengths in specific aspects of the ranking system. For example, Nassau County, on Long Island in New York state, ranked 98 out of all 3,000 communities and scored 100 out of 100 in public safety; Grand Forks County, North Dakota, which ranked 454 overall, scored 100 in the quality of its infrastructure; and Leelanau County, Michigan, which ranked 134 overall, scored a 100 in the area of food and nutrition.
Other communities near the top of the overall health rankings this year include Morgan County, Utah; Carver County, Minnesota; Sioux County, Iowa; Arlington and Loudoun Counties in Virginia (both near Washington, DC); Broomfield County, Colorado (near Denver); and Howard County, Maryland, between Baltimore and Washington, DC.