America’s Healthiest Community: Los Alamos County


LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – Nearly 80 years ago, scientists flocked to a remote site in the mountains of northern New Mexico, moving into rapidly built government housing and charged with developing a nuclear weapon to end the Second World War. Officially, the community didn’t exist – babies’ birth certificates listed “PO Box 1663” in Santa Fe, the mailing address for the entire town.

Today, close to 20,000 people live in Los Alamos County, comprising the once-secret town of the same name and neighboring White Rock, and the area where the atomic bomb was developed is very much on the map. Scientists from around the world come to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the country’s premier nuclear research institutions, and an abundance of outdoor recreation activities has enticed many to put down roots. About 39% of county residents have a master’s or other advanced degree, the county’s median income level is among the highest in the nation and nearly everyone has health insurance.

These factors have helped distinguish Los Alamos County as America’s healthiest community, according to a U.S. News analysis that takes into account economic, educational and environmental factors, as well as other social determinants of health. In total, the third annual Healthiest Communities rankings assess nearly 3,000 counties and county equivalents across 84 metrics that form the foundation of a community’s well-being.