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Alameda County Ranks Higher Than Most in State Health Rankings

According to a new report, Alameda County is healthier than 62 percent of other California counties.

Say what you will about the or , but Alameda County's health ranking isn't too bad compared to the rest of the counties in the state.

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps released its 2012 report on the state of health nationwide on Tuesday. According to the report, Alameda County ranks as the 21st healthiest of the 56 ranked counties in California. It's worth noting that it has held this same ranking last year, which was an improvement over its ranking No. 23 in 2010.

Click the map to the right to see the color-coded state with complete county rankings.

The report is broken down into several categories, each with a handful of subcategories. The section in which Alameda County really shines is what they call "Health Behaviors," where locals are ranked 16th statewide.

Included in Health Behaviors is adult smoking, adult obesity, physical inactivity, excessive drinking, motor vehicle crash death rate, sexually transmitted infections and teen birth rate. In all but three of those subcategories, Alameda County healthier than the average Californian.

The county's lowest-rated category is "Morbidity," for which it is ranked 34th in the state. The subcategories there include poor or fair heath, poor physical health days, poor mental health days and low birthweight.

See the complete breakdown of the health of Alameda County compared to the state average and national benchmark below. The national benchmark is the desired national rate for each category. Less than 10 percent of counties nationwide meet the national benchmark. Alameda County meets or exceeds the national benchmark in 8 of the 29 categories. 

Explanations for unclear categories can be found below the chart. 

Category Alameda County National Benchmark California Average Premature Death 5,690 5,466 5,922 Poor or Fair Health 15% 10% 19% Poor Physical Health Days 3.1 2.6 3.7 Poor Mental Health Days 3.4 2.3 3.6 Low Birthweight 7.1% 6% 6.7% Adult Smoking 12% 14% 14% Adult Obesity 20% 25% 24% Physical Inactivity 17% 21% 18% Excessive Drinking 19% 8% 17% Motor Vehicle Crash Death Rate 8 12 12 Sexually Transmitted Infections 460 84 399 Teen Birth Rate 29 22 40 Uninsured 15% 11% 20% Primary Care Physicians 674:1 631:1 847:1 Preventable Hospital Stays 49 49 52 Diabetic Screening 76% 89% 79% Mammography Screening 63% 74% 63% High School Graduation 75% N/A 74% Some College 69% 68% 60% Unemployment 11.3% 5.4% 12.4% Children in Poverty 17% 13% 22% Inadequate Social Support 26% 14% 25% Children in Single-Parent Households 30% 20% 30% Violent Crime Rate 834 73 500 Air Pollution-Particulate Matter Days 6 0 16 Air Pollution-Ozone Days 10 0 51 Access to Recreational Facilities 10 16 9 Limited Access to Healthy Foods 1% 0% 5% Fast Food Restaurants 45% 25% 49%

Category Explanations:

Premature Death: Years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 population
Poor Physical/Mental Health Days: Average per 30 days
Physical Inactivity: Percent of adults reporting no physical activity
Motor Vehicle Crash Death Rate: Deaths per 100,000 population
Sexually Transmitted Infections: Chlamydia rate per 100,000 population
Teen Birth Rate: Per 1,000 teen girls
Violent Crime Rate: Per 100,000 population
Air Pollution Days: Annual number of unhealthy air days
Access to Recreational Facilities: Facilities per 100,000 people
Limited Access to Healthy Foods: Population percent who are low income and do not live near a grocery store

Need explanations on other categories? Ask in the comments.

What do you make of the county health rankings? Are you impressed by the ratio of population to primary care physicians? Depressed by our violent crime and number of sexually transmitted infections? Tell us in the comments!

Speedie B April 08, 2012 at 05:16 PM
For the PCPs, can you explain what the ratio means? Is it for every 674 people, we have 1 physician?
Speedie B April 10, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I guess it comes down to 'glass half empty, glass half full' and how to spin the data to make Alameda County look good. What I read is that we have huge areas for improvement since we did NOT even met the National Avg in more than 70% of the categories! We did compared favorably to the National Avg for being lower in adult smoking and obesity, we are more physically active, and have fewer motorcycle deaths. However, compared to Nat’l Avg, Alameda County has more pre-mature deaths, poor mental & physical days, higher percentage of low birthrate and a higher teen birthrate, more than TWICE the Nat’l Avg for excessive drinking and greater than FIVE TIMES the avg for sexually transmitted diseases. More people are uninsured and less people screening for diabetes & mammograms. We have more children living in poverty and in single parent HHs, and less social support. We have more than ELEVEN TIMES GREATER violent crime than the Nat’l Avg. We have worse air quality, less access to recreational facilities and almost twice as many fast food restaurants.
Speedie B April 10, 2012 at 04:38 PM
And though we compare better to other Californians by having fewer pre-mature deaths, poor physical health days, slightly fewer smokers, lower adult obesity, fewer motor cycle deaths, lower teen birth rate, fewer people uninsured, more PCPs, slightly more attending some college, fewer children in poverty, and better air quality, Alameda County scored worse for excessive drinking, and has a higher rate of STDs and a significantly more violent crimes. So, although we may be doing somewhat better than other California counties, we have a long way to go to achieve better living compared to the National Average. Shouldn’t that be the Gold Standard we strive for?
Analisa Harangozo April 10, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Speedie, sorry.. just saw your comment. But yes, that's correct.

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