Region Forward Blog

The Morning Measure: Health disparities in metro Washington

Mar 30, 2011


Metro Washington is very wealthy when compared to the rest of the country; however within the region there are pockets of inequality on a number of factors ranging from income to education to health. According to a new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation metro Washington has some of the healthiest jurisdictions in the country alongside some lagging far behind.

As The Washington Post reports today Fairfax Arlington and Loudoun counties received the highest rankings for overall health in Virginia. Howard Montgomery and Frederick counties got top marks in Maryland. The District of Columbia and Prince George’s County are relatively less healthy than the aforementioned counties according to the rankings which looked at several measurements and influential factors of health including the rate of people dying before age 75 air pollution levels the rate of low birth-weight babies prevalence of smoking and binge-drinking rates of obesity rates of violent crime access to primary care providers high school graduation rates and access to healthful foods.

These findings largely align with an earlier study conducted in 2009 by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and the Washington Grantmakers that looked at health disparities in the region. According to that report Montgomery County residents are likely to live 6.3 years longer on average than their counterparts in neighboring Prince George’s County and 9.3 years longer on average than District of Columbia residents. This nearly 10-year life span differential is appalling for such a relatively wealthy region.

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