Health

National Iowa report ranks Eastern Iowa among the best in health, wellness

51 Iowa counties ranked among 500 U.S. communities

(File photo) Devices used to take blood pressure, temperature.  (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
(File photo) Devices used to take blood pressure, temperature. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

51 Iowa counties were ranked among the healthiest communities in the country, according to a new nationwide health ranking released this week.

Winneshiek, Dallas and Sioux Counties were named the healthiest counties in Iowa by the 2018 Healthiest Communities Rankings, a report by the U.S. News and World Report in collaboration with the Aetna Foundation, a charitable arm of the insurance company.

The inaugural report measured health and wellness across the United States and scored communities using 10 metrics of health-related components of a community. This includes population health, education, housing, economy and public safety.

Michaela Ramm / The Gazette

The report evaluated more than 3,000 counties and found the country’s top 500.

“Research has shown that in the United States, your ZIP code is a greater predictor of your life expectancy than your genetic code. In other words, where you live has a significant impact on your overall health,” said Mark Bertolini, chairman of the Aetna Foundation and chief executive officer of Aetna, in a news release announcing the rankings.

In Eastern Iowa, Johnson County ranked 122nd, scoring high for population health and infrastructure but ranking poorly for availability, affordability and quality of housing.

Cedar County followed at 126th and then Iowa County at 186th.

Linn County came in at 195th, with a low ranking in housing and a high scoring in infrastructure, which is defined by the rankings as “how well residents can make use of their community,” such as walkability, commute times and internet access.

The top ranked county in Iowa was Winneshiek County in the northeast corner of the state at the 22nd spot.

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It was followed by the central Dallas County, which ranked 47th. Far behind the top two was Sioux County, located on the northwestern border, at 107th.

The 500th ranking in the report was Emmet County, Iowa. On the northwestern border of the state, the county was given the ranking based on a low ranking in its economy and high score in infrastructure.

Communities in Virginia and Colorado dominate the top 10 rankings, according to the report. The city of Falls Church in Virginia earned the top ranking by the Healthiest Communities report, followed by Douglas and Broomfield counties in Colorado at the No. 2 and No. 3 ranks respectively.

The goal of the ranking was not only to assess wellness nationwide, but to also empower local officials to create policies and practices that improve overall health outcomes by offering “insight into the best approaches,” according to the news release.

For all of the rankings and more information on the 2018 Healthiest Communities Rankings, visit the U.S. News and World Report website at www.usnews.com.

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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