Hood River is ‘second-healthiest county in Oregon’

April 6, 2011

In addition to the many honors Hood River has received through national and regional magazines touting the county as a desirable place to live and play, Hood River can now add a new feather to its already beloved cap.

Hood River County ranks second out of 33 researched counties in Oregon for overall health of its residents, according to a new national report.

Benton County for the second year in a row has come in first, according to County Health Rankings, a comprehensive report released March 30 that ranks each county in every state.

Across a multitude of specific indicators, Hood River County was consistently in the top counties, earning rankings between first and seventh. The cumulative ratings placed us second overall.

Not surprisingly, Hood River ranked as the number one county in the state in the healthy physical environment category - which includes access to good food and recreational facilities, and low air pollution rates.

The 2011 report by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the second annual nationwide "health checkup" ranking.

Using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live, this report is the most comprehensive of its kind to rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

According to this year's rankings, the 10 healthiest counties in Oregon, starting with most healthy, are Benton, Hood River, Washington, Clackamas, Wallowa, Grant, Deschutes, Polk, Wasco, Marion.

"The rankings help counties see what they are doing well, where they need to improve and what steps they can take as a community to improve overall health. This information can help communities prevent disease and illness and have better health outcomes," said Katrina Hedberg, M.D., M.P.H., state epidemiologist, Oregon Public Health Division.

Two umbrella categories used in the study clustered together data collected under both health outcomes - often referred to as mortality and morbidity (i.e., results) - and health factors (contributing issues).

Health outcome rankings examined data on premature death rates; birth weights of newborns and resident self-reports of overall health status plus specific reports on the quality of their physical or mental health.

Health factor rankings compared four behavioral or environmental quality of life measures within each county including: physical environment; health behaviors; clinical care and social and economic environment.

Specific health factor data collected for each county in the study included: access to healthy foods, recreation access, air pollution levels, rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, adult excessive drinking, and births to teenagers; the number of uninsured adults, availability of primary care providers, and preventable hospital stays; high school graduation rates, adults who have attended college, children living in poverty; and community safety.

The 10 counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Jefferson, Klamath, Douglas, Josephine, Baker, Linn, Lincoln, Coos, Curry and Tillamook.

Counties are ranked relative to the health of other counties in the same state and are not compared across state lines, so at this time, there is no recognition for the "healt

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