April 3, 2012
For further information, contact:
Rick Osborn, Public Information Officer, Benton County Board of Commissioners
(541) 766-6082, firstname.lastname@example.org
Three-peat: Benton tops Oregon health rankings
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Reports released nationwide today demonstrate the important role that education, jobs, income and the environment play in the health and lifespan of Benton County residents.
For the third straight year, Benton County ranked No. 1 among all Oregon counties in the annual County Health Rankings published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The reports compare counties within each state for overall health and performance on specific health factors compared to national benchmarks. Reports released nationwide today demonstrate the important role that education, jobs, income and the environment play in the health and lifespan of Benton County residents.
“The County Health Rankings demonstrate that where we live, learn, work and play matters to our health,” Benton County Public Health Officer Dr. Bruce Thomson said. “Having health insurance and an excellent medical system is important, but our day-to-day health depends on influences outside the doctor’s office such as healthy schools and workplaces, access to healthy food and water, opportunities for physical activity and limited exposure to tobacco smoke. This ranking validates the health policies that our communities and county have implemented over the past several decades.”
Officials point to local successes in reducing smoking, teen pregnancy and community safety – including walkability and bikeability – as important contributors to Benton County’s third straight No. 1 ranking. Research demonstrates that those and other influences such as high-quality medical services, efforts to reduce under-age and excessive drinking, low unemployment and educational achievement all contribute to population health.
“This report demonstrates that Benton County is on the right track, but that our work is far from over,” Benton County Health Department Director Mitch Anderson said. “It is also a challenge to make sure that everyone in our area has an equal opportunity to be healthy. While our overall ranking is at the top, we still have far too many individuals and families who suffer with preventable illnesses. No government or private program can take the place of people making healthy choices for themselves. But we can do more to make sure everyone in Benton County has a level playing field for making healthy choices.”
The report will be highlighted at the Benton County Health Department’s annual Public Health Week celebration and awards event from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 5, at the Philomath Boy Scout Lodge, 660 Clemens Mill Road, in Philomath. The event is free and open to the public. In addition to the Health Rankings Report, the recipient of the annual Sheldon Wagner Public Health Service Award will be announced. The award is given each year to honor an outstanding community member whose work has significantly improved the health of the public in Benton County over the past year. In the spirit of Dr. Wagner, this award is intended as both recognition of outstanding efforts and as a model to motivate others toward these high standards of community service.
The County Health Rankings rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states, using standard methods to measure how healthy people are and how long they live. This year’s rankings include several new measures, such as how many fast food restaurants are in a county and levels of physical inactivity among residents. Graphs illustrating premature death trends over 10 years also are new to the report.
The rankings – available at www.countyhealthrankings.org – include a snapshot of each Oregon county with a color-coded map comparing each county’s overall health ranking. Researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health – or “health outcomes” – for Oregon by county. These include the rate of people dying before age 75; the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health; the numbers of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health; and the rate of low-birth weight infants.