San Joaquin Valley Counties Among Unhealthiest in State
Of the 10 unhealthiest counties in California, seven are in the San Joaquin Valley, according to a report released Tuesday by the Having Our Say Coalition, a health reform group, the Fresno Bee reports.
The report, called "The Path to Healthy Communities: Mapping California's Priorities," found that residents of the San Joaquin Valley are more likely than other Californians to live in neighborhoods with the most polluted air and limited access to grocery stores, safe playgrounds and sidewalks.
The report ranked counties by compiling information on income, health conditions, weight, fitness levels, insurance status, open space in communities, and demographics, including race and ethnicity, language spoken and country of origin (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 7/2).
The seven San Joaquin counties are:
- San Joaquin; and
Counties with the lowest scores had high poverty rates and large minority populations with limited access to health insurance (AP/Stockton Record, 7/2).
Martin Martinez -- policy director for the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, a lead member of the Having Our Say Coalition -- said, "We are on the verge of a massive diabetes and obesity epidemic in the Valley."
In hopes of improving residents' health, Martinez said the state should provide assistance to communities that lack parks, playgrounds, grocery stores and sidewalks.
Two bills pending in the Legislature could provide counties to develop healthier communities. The bills are:
- AB 211 by Assembly member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), which would promote the involvement of public health officers in land use decisions; and
- AB 1472 by Assembly member Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), which would provide assistance to public health agencies and community organizations working on land use plans (Fresno Bee, 7/2).