Juneau is the healthiest community in Alaska, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin.
The fifth annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps ranks communities based on 31 different metrics, including obesity, health insurance, pollution, longevity and quality of life. It was published last week.
Within Alaska, Juneau ranked healthiest overall. The study broke the state down into 27 communities. The borough excelled in healthy behavior and clinical care. For example, only 18 percent of Juneau adults smoke compared to 36 percent in the Wade Hampton Census Area, the lowest ranked community in Alaska. Juneau was in the nation’s top 10 percent for multiple categories such as access to exercise opportunities, ratio of health care providers and college education.
Juneau ranked third for longevity in Alaska, behind the Fairbanks North Star Borough and Southeast Fairbanks Census Area. Juneau’s quality of life was ranked eighth.
“And so what we hope is that the rankings are a call to action for communities—that they start a conversation about what’s happening within each individual community, what’s going well and what are some challenges,” says Kate Konkle, an associate researcher at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The institute conducted the study with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Sitka is a finalist for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Roadmaps to Health Prize, given to communities developing creative strategies for improving the health of its citizens. In response to a previous year’s data, Sitka created a “food hub” to encourage healthy eating, increase food security and improve access to local produce. Sitka ranked second in Alaska.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has also ranked Juneau the healthiest community in Alaska.