Williamson County was ranked as the healthiest county in Texas out of 232 surveyed for the 2013 County Health Rankings, which examines and ranks the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states.
The report, released March 20 by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, helps communities identify factors that are successful along with those that need improvement.
W.S. "Chip" Riggins, Williamson County and Cities Health District executive director, said in a news release that momentum is building throughout the county to improve resident health.
"We appreciate the opportunity that the County Health Rankings give us to highlight all of the great efforts to create conditions where people can be healthy," he said in the release. "We celebrate the collective and individual efforts to improve local health."
"While we ranked high overall, our goal is to be the healthiest county in the country and that requires addressing our disparities," said Carlos Rivera, the director for Austin and Travis County Health and Human Services, in a news release. "From pre-conception to the elderly, our commitment is to create new pathways to better health and we will continue to work with our partners to accomplish that."
Hays County was ranked 12th for mortality, according to the report, although the county was ranked 77th for health behaviors such as smoking, adult obesity and excess drinking.
The rankings allow counties to compare a range of factors that influence health such as high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, access to healthy foods and more. The report also contains new county-level graphs detailing trends and changes for measures such as children in poverty, quality of care and more.
The rankings reflect the priority the county has placed on influencing the factors that affect residents' health and how important it is to sustain those programs and services for the community to stay healthy.
The complete rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
Additional reporting by Wes Ferguson and Beth Wade.