Falls Church is US News’ 2nd-healthiest community in the nation

Four of the top 20 healthiest communities ranked by U.S. News & World Report are in Northern Virginia, with Falls Church landing in the No. 2 spot.

Los Alamos County, New Mexico, tops the 2022 Healthiest Communities list, which is based on 10 broad categories, ranging from education to the environment and how prone people are to diseases.

“In education, Falls Church scores a perfect 100, which is the highest in the country. It also does really well (100) in the economy category, which basically fuels its No. 2 ranking overall,” said Gary Emerling, managing editor for government rankings at U.S. News.

“The population health category includes measures of things like physical activity, cancer incidents — there’s some mental health metrics it does really well in. It also has a score of 100 there,” he said.

“Falls Church is proud to once again be recognized as one of the healthiest communities in the nation,” Mayor P. David Tarter told WTOP via email.

Emerling said health isn’t always just about one thing, such as whether you can go to the doctor; it’s also about whether you have stable housing and access to healthy foods.

The Falls Church score of 97 in the infrastructure category covers metrics such as access to the internet, community walkability, access to a vehicle and distance to public transit.

“We strive to improve the health, fitness and quality of life of our residents through a walkable, bikable city with excellent recreational facilities, a popular farmers market and world-class schools. We send our congratulations — and sodas, chips and other junk food — to Los Alamos, this year’s winner,” Tarter said.

Some other local standouts from the D.C. metro area:

  • No. 12: Loudoun County, Va.
  • No. 13: Arlington County, Va.
  • No. 17: Fairfax County, Va.
  • No. 18: Howard County, Md.
  • No. 29: Fairfax City, Va.

“One thing that the D.C. area really has going for it is a strong economic base,” Emerling said. “The way things work a lot of times is that the wealthier a community is, the more access to resources it has, and thus the healthier the community can be.”

Emerling said the rankings might prove helpful to policy makers.

“If one community is doing poorly in one area, they can look at a community that’s doing well in that area and maybe learn from them; take a program that has been implemented in one county and try to adopt it in their county to improve that score in that social determinant of health,” he said.

The 2022 Healthiest Communities rankings were created in collaboration with CVS Health.

U.S. News in 2018 ranked Falls Church the Healthiest Community in America.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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