Many Iowa counties are among the healthiest communities in the United States, according to new nationwide listings. The 2019 Healthiest Communities Rankings, an annual list compiled by U.S. News & World Report and the Aetna Foundation, measured counties in Iowa and other states on several health-related metrics, such as obesity and smoking rates as well as infrastructure and access to recreational spaces.
The report analyzed about 3,000 communities in 10 categories, and found that Douglas County, Colorado — which includes a suburb south of Denver — as the healthiest community in America, in part for its measurements in physical activity and median household income, according to a news release on the rankings.
Iowa “has the strongest presence” in the rankings, with 62 counties listed among the top 500 nationwide (for comparison, Colorado has 28 counties listed and California 17). The state’s top county is Bremer County — just north of Waterloo — at 26th in the ranking. Several other Iowa counties ranked in the top 40 in the nation, including Sioux (28th), Dallas (29th), Grundy (36th) and Hardin (38th). Ida County, located in west central Iowa between Sioux City and Fort Dodge, was ranked as the nation’s most improved healthiest community
Counties across the United States also were grouped into four peer rankings based on their urban and rural statuses. They are categorized as rural high-performing, rural up and coming, urban high-performing and urban up and coming. Calhoun County — in Western Iowa — was ranked as the third rural up-and-coming community nationwide. Several Iowa counties also ranked high in the rural high-performing category, including Sioux (8th), Hardin (9th), Winnebago (16th), O’Brien (19th), Mitchell (21st) and Lyon (24th).
The Healthiest Communities rankings, underwritten by Aetna Foundation, aims to inform residents, health care leaders and elected officials “about policies and best practices that help drive better health outcomes” for Americans.