Five Central Texas counties ranked within the top 25 healthiest counties in the state with Williamson County ranking second, according to the results of a nationally conducted study released March 14.

The study, known as the County Health Rankings, is conducted by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and evaluates a county’s public health by collecting data on a number of health factors, such as access to healthy foods, rates of teen births, smoking and obesity.

"Once again, County Health Rankings demonstrate that WilCo’s residents, hospital systems, physician practices, faith communities, public schools, city and county leaders, higher education institutions, business leaders, and nonprofit organizations place our citizens’ physical, behavioral and spiritual health as key priorities in nearly everything they do," said John Teel, Williamson County and Cities Health District executive director, in a news release.

The following Central Texas counties ranked within the top 25 healthiest counties out of all 242 Texas counties that participated in the study in 2018.

2018 County Health Rankings

  • Williamson County: #2

  • Travis County: #8

  • Hays County: #14

  • Comal County: #19

  • Guadalupe County: #21

Since 2011, the number of counties participating in the study has risen from 223 to 242 in 2018. Changes in data collection can affect an individual county’s ranking when compared to previous years.

“Annual rankings can improve or worsen for several reasons, including gains or losses in the factors that make up the rankings, random variations in measures, the number of participating counties and changes in ranked measures or their methods,” a statement from Austin Public Health released March 14 said.

Since 2011, these five Central Texas counties have all remained within the top 25 healthiest counties with the exception of Guadalupe County ranking No. 27 in 2017, according to the County Health Ranking Report archives.

Some counties have fluctuated more than others since 2011. Comal County for example, was ranked 8th in 2011 and received its lowest ranking, 25, in 2016. In 2018 it was ranked 19, according to the most recent report.

Williamson County has seen little fluctuation and has remained within the top five counties since 2011.

Some public officials see the County Health Rankings as an opportunity to use data to influence policies that aim to improve the quality of life for residents within individual counties.

“There are a wide range of factors that influence how long and how well we live including education and income, what we eat and how we move as well as the quality of our housing and the safety of our neighborhoods,” said Stephanie Hayden, interim director of Austin Public Health, in a release following the study’s findings.

View the full report here.