Yolo County residents are fairly healthy when compared to the rest of California — as well as the rest of the country — according to some recently released health rankings.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released data in December showing that Yolo ranks fifth among 57 counties — Alpine County was not ranked — when it comes to health outcomes and 11th in health factors. The rankings took into account tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol use, access to health care, education and other factors, as well as outcomes related to mortality and morbidity.
It turns out that Yolo County has the fourth-lowest death rate for coronary heart disease among California counties and the third lowest suicide rate. But the county ranked among the highest in deaths from influenza/pneumonia as well as diabetes, and some statistics are headed in the wrong direction.
For example, California’s smoking rate is 12.6 percent, below the national average of 19.6 percent, and Yolo County’s smoking rate is a fraction of both at 7 percent.
However, the county’s health officer, Dr. Constance Caldwell, testified before the Board of Supervisors last month that the youth smoking rate in Yolo County has increased from 5.8 percent to 15 percent in recent years, indicating the strides the county has made in smoking cessation over the past two decades may be reversed.
“If our youth begin smoking in increased numbers,” Caldwell said, “we will see this continue into adulthood.”
Yolo County performed better than the state as a whole in other areas, ranking eighth in clinical care, 15th in health behaviors and 16th in social and economic factors.
The county mirrors the state and national average when it comes to obesity, with 26 percent of Yolo County residents now considered obese. The national average is 27.6 percent and the state average 25 percent.
Meanwhile, data from the California Department of Public Health looked at how individual counties — as well as the state as a whole — are meeting the goals set forth in the Healthy People 2020 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Results are mixed for Yolo County.
Yolo had lower cancer death rates than the state as a whole but higher death rates from diabetes, stroke, influenza and pneumonia and chronic liver disease.
The county’s death rates from colorectal cancer (14.2), breast cancer (17.9) and prostate cancer (21.7) were all lower than the state’s rates. And Yolo County also had a lower age-adjusted coronary heart disease rate than the state average.
But Yolo’s age-adjusted death rate from diabetes — 20.3 per 100,000 residents — was among the 20 counties with the highest death rates for diabetes.
Similarly on stroke, the death rate in California was 38.1, the goal set by the Health People 2020 report is no more than 33.8, and Yolo County’s was 39.4.
Only a handful of counties in California had higher death rates than Yolo for influenza/pneumonia. The age-adjusted death rate from influenza/pneumonia for Californians from 2009 to 2011 was 17.3 deaths per 100,000 residents. Yolo County’s rate was 23.
In addition to comparing death rates, the report also looked at other health factors with Yolo County performing well when compared to other counties.
Yolo’s tuberculosis rate of 3.6 was well below the state rate of 6.4 cases per 100,000 residents, though both exceeded the Health People 2020 goal of just one.
Yolo County had fewer teen mothers and a higher breastfeeding rate than the state average, though results on infant mortality were mixed.
The national goal for infant mortality is no more than six per 1,000 live births. California’s rate was five infant deaths per 1,000 births and Yolo ranked 10th in the state with an infant mortality rate of 3.2. However, when broken down by race, Yolo County’s infant mortality rate was higher for African-Amercians (6.7) and Hispanics (3.8) than for whites (2.6).
The county ranked eighth on teen mothers, ninth on low birth-weight babies, 20th on first-trimester prenatal care and 26th on breastfeeding.
View all of the rankings from the Department of Public Health at www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/ohir/Pages/CHSP.aspx.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at email@example.com or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy