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Study: Bay Area county is healthiest in California

March 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new study released Wednesday has named a Northern California county as the healthiest in the state.

Marin County received the title of healthiest county in California for the second year in a row.

Residents in the North San Francisco Bay Area county have lower rates of smoking, adult obesity and teen birth. The study did, however, state the county could stand to improve its rate of binge drinking.

As for Southern California, Orange County was the healthiest, coming in at No. 6.

"I'm not surprised. I think I see people out walking just like I am. I see so many people walking at this time of day, and we're not all kids either," said Seal Beach resident Jane Wright.

Behind O.C., Ventura County ranked No. 17, Los Angeles County ranked No. 26, Riverside County ranked No. 29, and San Bernardino County ranked No. 44.

The rankings, which were released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, were based on the latest data available for each county and are a part of a larger national comparison of county-by-county health statistics.

The study compares counties within each state and found that across the nation unhealthy counties typically also have significantly lower high school graduation rates, twice as many children living in poverty, higher unemployment and less access to health-minded grocery stores and farmers' markets. The study finds that the more money a person makes the more access they'll have to staying healthy. They are more likely to own a gym membership and have regular checkups with their doctor.

"A lot of the things that you need to make you healthy cost a lot of money, but at the same time, you can work out and that's inexpensive," said Los Angeles resident Pamela Vera.

Overall, coastal counties from Sonoma to San Diego fared better than inland areas and the rural northern counties of California.

The unhealthiest counties include Del Norte, Trinity, Madera, San Bernardino and Kern.

Researchers compared various types of data, including mortality rate of those who die before age 75, social and economic factors, clinical care and health behaviors, such as smoking.