Talk about extremes. A new report looking at the nation’s healthiest and unhealthiest counties by state, then drilled down by county, found California’s best and worst counties residing in the North Bay.
Marin County placed first, and Lake County placed last.
The 2019 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Report, an annual collaborative effort between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in Madison, focused this year on health outcomes around housing.
“Health outcomes are shaped by a range of factors that are heavily influenced by where we live, including health behaviors, clinical care, physical environment, and social and environmental factors,” the organizations said in the report.
The day the report was released, the county of Marin published a news release about the study’s findings, noting it had ranked first as the healthiest county in the state in all but one year of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report.
This year, Marin County scored highest in life expectancy (75 years-plus).
“We have great access to green space and opportunities for physical activity, nutritious local foods, and high-quality health care,” said Matt Willis, Marin County public health officer. “All of these things contribute to health and longevity.”
But the county also reported it has work to do.
“While Marin scored near the top in most health factors, there are important exceptions,” the county stated in the news release. “Housing affordability, income inequality, high rates of substance use, and racial disparities in health were highlighted as weaknesses in Marin’s health profile. Among 58 California counties, Marin ranked 39th in housing cost burden, 54th in income inequality, and 48th in high rates of binge drinking.”
Lake County’s health outcomes report showed 11,600 premature deaths compared to the statewide average of 5,300. The county, which did not put out its own release, also scored poorly on behavioral health issues including, but not limited to: smoking, alcohol-impaired driving deaths, teen births and adult obesity.
The county’s access to exercise opportunities ranked at 63 percent compared to 93 percent statewide. The report didn’t reflect health problems potentially aggravated by two consecutive years of damaging wildfires.
Among the remaining four North Bay counties, Napa ranked No. 7, immediately followed by Sonoma at No. 8. Solano County ranked No. 22 and Mendocino County came in at No. 41.
The full report is available at countyhealthrankings.org/reports/2019-county-health-rankings-key-findings-report.
Staff Writer Cheryl Sarfaty covers tourism, hospitality, health care and education. Reach her at email@example.com or 707-521-4259.
Top 10 California counties
1. Marin County
2. San Mateo County
3. Santa Clara County
4. Placer County
5. Orange County
6. San Francisco County
7. Napa County
8. Sonoma County
9. Ventura County
10. San Diego County
How other North Coast counties ranked
41. Mendocino County
58. Lake County
Source: 2019 County Health Rankings