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Originally published: 2014-03-31 15:41:13
Last modified: 2014-03-31 15:41:58

Our View: Beyond No. 2

Watauga County's ranking as No. 2 in a survey designating the healthiest among the state's 100 counties comes as little surprise to those of us living in the mountain air of North Carolina. Maybe it should.

While Appalachian Regional Healthcare System officials are right to crow about the overall ranking -- after all, Watauga places high in its fight against quality-of-life challenges, such as percentage of adults in fair or poor health, babies born with low birth rates and teen birth rates -- there are other significant concerns, many of which are out of reach of our health professionals.

Only as a community can we address the gambit of threats against good health -- and especially those which arise with the aid of influences outside of the county -- such as Watauga's No. 92 ranking for physical environment that includes higher than state average daily measure of air pollution, overcrowded and expensive households and the percentage of residents who drive alone to work.

Already, we are working toward reducing such challenges. Indeed, that work is exemplified by our county's overall health ranking -- we wouldn't be No. 2 without significant effort and allocation of resources: AppalCART, for example, serves as a state model by serving Watauga with a dozen fare free bus routes and nearly as many van routes throughout the county. 

But until Watauga reaches the pinnacles of healthy living in all categories, more effort remains to be given. The payoff, a healthier life, is something we should all strive for.