How Healthy Are We in San Mateo County?

New information gives county-by-county rundowns of who's healthy, and who's not, and breaks down the data.


It appears we're healthier than San Francisco County. And Sacramento County. But we're not Marin, not yet. And Santa Clara beat us by a bit.

In fact, a new study released today ranks San Mateo County as the fifth healthiest county in California, behind Marin, Santa Clara, San Benito and Placer counties. 58 counties in California were ranked.

"We're very excited. We've ranked in the top 5 in the state of CA for several years now," said ST Mayer, director of health policy and planning for San Mateo County Health. "We really think the rankings affirm the work we're already doing."

Mayer said, that work includes making sure the residents of San Mateo County have plenty of access to space such as parks for physical activity, and access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

"We think it also really validates the work our partners on the ground are doing already, so we really want to thank them as well," ST Mayer. 

San Francisco County finished 24th, Los Angeles County 28th, Sacramento 31st.

The study, called County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, measured health outcomes such as mortality and morbidity. It looked at health factors such as health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and our physical environment.

The rankings are meant to help counties understand what influences the health of residents and how long they will live.

Uniquely, San Mateo County has a lower obesity rate - 20 percent - than the national benchmark of 25 percent and California's 24 percent. We die less in car crashes. Our motor vehicle death crash rate was low, only seven per 100,000 population, compared with both California and the national mark, at 12 per 100,000.

Nine percent of our children live in poverty according to the study, compared with 13 percent nationally and 22 percent in California. And we appear more educated; 73 percent have at least some college education, compared with 60 percent in California and 68 percent nationwide.

But we have our faults. Drinking is an issue. 18 percent reported excessive drinking, considered binge and heavy drinking. That compares with eight percent nationwide, 17 percent in California.

Our smoking rates rank us exactly on par with California and the nation; all three groups smoke at a rate of 14 percent of the population.

And San Mateo County shows its California-ness when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases - specifically chlamydia in this case - with 248 cases reported per 100,000 persons. Ranking all counties, California shows nearly 400 cases in the same category. Nationwide, the rate drops dramatically, to 84 cases per 100,000.

The study was a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. You can see the full report, and find rankings of counties in every state here.


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