It's national public health week and an annual study shows that Butte County is one of the least healthy areas in California. The University of Wisconsin released the results of a national study this week, ranking Butte County 44th among 56 California counties that were evaluated. The purpose of the study was to look at the overall health of the people in each county. According to the survey, Butte County has a high number of smokers at 21%, compared to 14% statewide. Butte County also has an obesity rate of 25%, which is just above the state average of 24%. Butte County Public Health Director Phyllis Murdock says a big reason for these trends is a high poverty rate in the area.
"Anytime you have fewer people working where they may have less insurance than they had when they were working, their ability to access medical care before things become urgent is impacted," says Murdock.
The unemployment rate for Butte County sits at about 14%, which is slightly higher than the state's average of 12%. Murdock says that living in a rural area can have a negative impact on factors that affect a person's health.
"You might not necessarily have such an easy time finding employment in a more rural county. That means there's less disposable income and sometimes you buy foods that are less expensive rather than foods that are maybe slightly more expensive but are healthier and better for you," she says.
Butte County isn't the only part of the north state that was ranked low. Shasta County only did slightly better at 43rd, and Tehama was even lower than that at 53rd. Despite the poor rating health officials are hopeful that they can turn the numbers around. According to the annual study, Butte County has dropped in its ranking over the last several years, from 39th last year and 35th in 2010. If you'd like to look at the full results of the study we've posted a link on our website under news links.