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Placer County can toast its good health – and raise its wheatgrass glass high

Group’s national rankings show Placer 2nd-healthiest in state behind Marin
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer’s rankings among California counties (With key factors in brackets)

 

6th Length of life (Premature deaths)

1st Quality of life (Mental and physical health, birth weight)

2nd Health behaviors (Smoking, adult obesity, physical inactivity, excessive drinking)

2nd Clinical care (Percent uninsured, dentists and physicians, diabetic screenings)

2nd Social and economic factors (High school graduation, unemployment, violent crime, injury deaths)

29th Physical environment (Air pollution, drinking water violations, severe housing problems, driving alone to work)

 

Source: County Health Rankings & Roadmaps 

Looking for a healthy lifestyle?

Look no further than Placer County, according to rankings in a new survey on the overall health of California residents.

Placer County ranked No. 2 overall among California’s 58 counties in the annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps survey, which was released last week.

And it gets top ranking in the state for quality of life.

Only Marin County topped Placer in terms of health outcomes and factors. El Dorado County ranked sixth overall in health outcomes and ninth in health factors. Nevada County also ranked in the Top 10, with a seventh-place ranking in health factors and ninth in outcomes.

The list of statistics the rankings are based on is extensive, with Placer County ranking No. 1 in the state in the subcategory of “quality of life.”

Quality of life counts the overall health of residents. Placer counted 9 percent of its residents in poor or fair health. California’s average is 18 percent.

The study also counted birth weights: In the county, 5.7 percent of newborns’ weights were below healthful standards. The statewide average is 6.8 percent.

Dr. Robert Oldham, Placer County’s health officer, said the rankings reflect years of hard work and healthy choices by Placer County residents, as well as local leaders, businesses, community organizations and faith-based groups, in tandem with health-care providers.

“A healthier Placer County keeps health costs down, helps our children to learn, improves our productivity and quality of life and makes Placer County more attractive to tourists, employers and investors,” Oldham said.

The Rankings & Roadmaps program is collaboration between Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

“While we celebrate our success, we will also use these rankings and other available data to help us to build upon our success so that the legacy to future generations will be an even healthier Placer County,” Oldham said.

The county couldn’t escape the realities of its physical environment, however, weighing down quality-of-life positives with negatives attributed to lengthy commutes.

 Placer ranked 29th among the state’s 58 for physical environment factors, which showed 78 percent of residents driving alone to work and 38 percent alone in their vehicles on long commutes (30 minutes or more). Around the state, 73 percent of workers drive alone to their jobs and 37 percent are driving alone on a long commute.

Miguel Ucovich, a Loomis Town Council member who sits on the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency board, said that he’s noticed few cars on the Interstate 80 carpool lanes when he’s driving in them with his wife. But he’s also noticed the same lack of traffic in those lanes in the Los Angeles area.

“There are so many single commuters,” Ucovich said. “At 5 p.m., it’s pretty nice to be in the carpool lane. People like their cars.”

Ucovich said the county planning agency has directed efforts over the past decade to increasing the number of Capitol Corridor commuter trains between Roseville and Sacramento but has been stymied by Union Pacific so far.

Carpooling has been another option, but difficult for some because they need someone to drive with who lives and works near them, he said.

“We’ve also talked about bringing light rail to Roseville, but that’s not going to happen,” Ucovich said.

On physical outcomes, Placer was marked down for having 48 percent of its eateries categorized as fast-food restaurants. Top U.S. performers had a 27 percent average.

Carol Lee Meinhold of Gaia’s Basket Grocery in Auburn said she’s noticed over the last decade that people are asking for healthier foods, and people who live in the Auburn area are doing so partly  because of access to recreational areas.

“Auburn’s definitely coming along and becoming more healthy,” Meinhold said.

 

Placer’s rankings among California counties (With key factors in brackets)

 

6th Length of life (Premature deaths)

1st Quality of life (Mental and physical health, birth weight)

2nd Health behaviors (Smoking, adult obesity, physical inactivity, excessive drinking)

2nd Clinical care (Percent uninsured, dentists and physicians, diabetic screenings)

2nd Social and economic factors (High school graduation, unemployment, violent crime, injury deaths)

29th Physical environment (Air pollution, drinking water violations, severe housing problems, driving alone to work)

 

Source: County Health Rankings & Roadmaps