For the second year in a row, Fairfax and Howard counties have been deemed the healthiest in the Washington metro region, according to a recent ranking conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Overall, the County Health Rankings report found that rates of premature deaths are at the lowest level in 20 years. Violent crime has decreased by almost 50 percent over the past 20 years.
To determine the rankings, researchers analyzed how long people live in each county, plus morbidity, or how people feel while alive. They also looked at counties' health behaviors, including alcohol and tobacco use, diet and exercise, access to health care, and physical environment factors.
In Virginia, Fairfax County ranked number one, with just 2.2 reported days of physical unhealthiness, followed by Loudoun and Arlington. Howard County came out on top in Maryland, with Montgomery and Frederick rounding out the top three. Baltimore County was deemed the unhealthiest county in Maryland.
The report found some other startling news for the least healthy counties in the nation:
1) Teen birth rates are more than twice as high in the least healthy counties than in the healthiest.
2) Child poverty rates have not improved since 2000.
3) Residents in the healthiest counties are 1.4 times more likely to have access to a physician.
4) Those who live in the unhealthiest counties are dying at more than twice the rate of those who live in the healthiest.
For the full report, visit countyhealthrankings.org.