Health report contains reasons to celebrate, but also causes for concern

Disparity in health between whites and Latinos
2013-05-23T17:45:00Z 2013-05-29T14:50:38Z Health report contains reasons to celebrate, but also causes for concernISABELLE DILLS Napa Valley Register
May 23, 2013 5:45 pm  • 

A newly released Community Health Assessment highlights the strengths, challenges and differences in health among Napa County residents.

One of the most significant findings from the assessment was the disparity in health between whites and Latinos.

While the overall health status rating is very good in Napa County, Latino residents reported fair or poor health at nearly three times the frequency of Caucasian residents, according to the assessment.

A higher percentage of Latinos also were found to be living in poverty and had higher rates of unemployment.

Napa County’s public health officer, Dr. Karen Smith, said she was “disheartened” to see such stark differences between white and Latino residents.

“It shows us how much work we have to do to create equitable health outcomes for everybody in the county,” Smith said.

The assessment data also showed that while Napa has many safe neighborhoods in close proximity to parks, the county’s children have high rates of being overweight and obese. Particularly concerning is that nearly 40 percent of 5th, 7th and 9th graders are now overweight or obese, according to the assessment.

What makes weight loss challenging for many families is “time,” Smith said. Families may live near recreation areas, but if parents are working multiple jobs — or getting home late each night — there’s little time to make fresh, nutritious meals, or visit the park, she said.

“If it was as simple as providing opportunities for physical activities, we’d be golden,” Smith said.

Smith and other health officials in Napa County will be using the Community Health Assessment to create goals and strategies to improve overall fitness and well-being countywide.

According to the data, Napa County’s strengths include:

• A steadily declining teen birth rate that continues to remain lower than the California teen birth rate;

• A steady decline in the use of agricultural pesticides over the past decade, as well as generally low levels of environmental ozone and fine particulate matter;

• Significantly low rates (below statewide averages) of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV;

Among Napa County’s challenges are the following:

• Only half of adults and children eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

• Drug and alcohol abuse are a serious concern. More than one-third of adults have reported binge drinking within the past year, and one-quarter of high school freshmen report alcohol use in the past month.

• Many individuals and families are living in poverty. More than one quarter of all residents and one-third of families with children under 18 live below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Smith said she hopes Napa County residents will use the Community Health Assessment to educate themselves and to become involved in the county’s health improvement plan.

“We’d love to hear from people,” Smith said.

People can get involved by writing letters to their local newspapers, or by sharing their ideas about new health policies at city council meetings, she said.

Smith also encourages students, who are working on health projects at school, to use the Community Health Assessment as a research tool.

“You don’t have to be a doctor or volunteer at the hospital to improve the health of the community,” Smith said.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. publiusa
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    publiusa - May 23, 2013 8:35 pm
    People don't eat fruits and veggies because they cost too much. The united Farm Workers Union raised ag wages so high that the cost of fruit and vegetables is beyond the reach of poor people. Today's kids don't know what an apple or banana or orange is. What they want is nachos and French fries.
    Thanks to unions farmers are out of business and kids are obese.
  2. Sickothis
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    Sickothis - May 24, 2013 10:07 am
    Utter hogwash and simplistic popularism. Americans spend less on food than any other nation on Earth. We pay about 9% on on food, and about 15% on healthcare. In the 1960's we spent around 18% on food and 5% on healthcare.

    Developed countries in Europe spend about 19% on food, and developing countries spend about 45%.

    You get what you pay for.

    And by the way - it's companies like Monsanto (and others, Monsanto is just the easy boogyman to thrash on) that are putting farmers out of business. Not those pesky unions, which by the way make up about 5% of the US workforce, as opposed to the 60's and 70's when union membership made up about 45% of the US workforce.
  3. publiusa
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    publiusa - May 24, 2013 5:15 pm
    Interesting statistics on the demise of unionism. But, you forgot to tell the reason for union it is...unions destroyed manufacturing in America by outrageous wage and benefit demands that sent businesses overseas for cheaper labor in order to compete.
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