The San Diego Union-Tribune by Paul Sisson –
December 10, 2013:
Though Californians are more physically active than their peers in other states, obesity is on the rise, according to a nationwide health report released Tuesday by the nonprofit United Health Foundation.
The 24th annual “America’s Health Rankings” report for 2013 examines a range of publicly available government data to rank states across 31 categories, from smoking and drug deaths to infant mortality and diabetes.
California ranked 21st in the nation for its overall health, one spot better than it did in 2012.
California ranked second in the nation for its smoking rate, reprising high rankings from previous years, and for having low numbers of infant mortalities, cancer deaths and premature deaths. The report also ranked California sixth in the nation for having low levels of physical inactivity.
But the state ranked last in the nation for its high levels of air pollution and for a comparatively low level of immunization, with only 66.8 percent of children in the state immunized compared with 82 percent in Rhode Island.
“What’s dragging California down in the rankings is the high levels of air pollution, a high percentage of uninsured population and low immunization rates,” said Lauren Mihajlov, a spokeswoman for United Health Group.
Particularly surprising, in a state that is generally seen as embracing healthy lifestyles, is an increase in obesity. According to the report, obesity rates increased from 23.8 percent in 2011 to 25 percent in 2012.
Despite that increase, California still has the 10th-best obesity rates in the nation.
Here are California’s six best and worst rankings from the report, which can be found in its entirety at americashealthrankings. org:
• Percent of smoking adults: 12.6. State rank: 2.
• Occupational fatalities per 100,000 workers: 2.9. Rank: 2.
• Percent physically inactive: 18. Rank: 6.
• Infant mortality per 1,000 births: 4.8. Rank: 6.
• Cancer deaths per 100,000 residents: 172.3. Rank: 6.
• Premature death (years lost per 100,000 population): 5,873. Rank: 6.
• Air pollution (micrograms per cubic meter): 15.1. Rank: 50.
• Percent without health insurance: 18.8. Rank: 44.
• Violent crimes per 100,000 population: 423. Rank: 35.
• Percent of children living in poverty: 22. Rank: 32.
• Percent of children immunized: 66.8. Rank: 32.
• Whooping cough cases per 100,000 population: 6.2. Rank: 30.