Health of local residents 'fairly average'

LOS ANGELES - Compared to the rest of the state, the health of Los Angeles County residents is fairly average, according to the 2011 County Health Rankings report, which highlighted several areas of concern that Public Health programs are working to improve.The report ranked L.A. County 26 out of 56 California counties in terms of health outcomes (a measure of how healthy our residents' lifestyles and environments are). Two of California's 58 counties were not ranked. "Not surprisingly, Los Angeles County falls toward the middle of the pack in California in health outcomes," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. "The part we should be concerned about is LA County's poor rankings on health factors, such as the physical, social and economic environment. These things represent a window into our future health. These are the things Public Health's programs seek to address." The report, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and created by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, compiles information on health and health determinants in counties throughout the country, and then ranks each state's counties against one another. "While L.A. County's recent health outcomes are typical for California, issues such as air pollution, violent crime, and poverty continue to rob LA County residents of years and quality of life," Fielding said. "This report highlights the need to take a broad approach to improving the health and lives of everyone in the county. For example, while we encourage people to eat healthy food and exercise, we must also ensure that they have access to healthcare, affordable healthy foods, and safe recreational facilities." As part of its ongoing mission to target the issues that affect health in Los Angeles County, Public Health has launched a pair of ambitious projects with the support of the federal government. Last year, Public Health received two grants from the U.S. Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative totaling an unprecedented $32.1 million over a two-year period to address the obesity epidemic and tobacco use. The initiative provides $15.9 million for Project RENEW, which includes obesity, physical activity and nutrition projects; and $16.2 million for Project TRUST, which includes tobacco control and prevention projects.

********** Published: April 7, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 51