Why is This Important?
Neighborhood characteristics, social factors, and opportunities to engage in healthy activities are among the most important factors shaping community health. Just as toxic substances in and around homes can directly impact residents’ health, so does the width of sidewalks, proximity to parks and grocery stores, and the availability of affordable housing. Social factors such as class, culture, race, and education are also key drivers determining the amount of stress or security individuals experience.
What is a Sustainable State?
A sustainable state is one where all people have the opportunity to live a healthy and long life and the prevalence of preventable disease decreases over time.
How Are We Doing?
Chronic Illness and Disease
Chronic illnesses are long lasting and costly. Increased rates of preventable chronic illnesses indicate a preponderance of unhealthy environments, and frequent hospital visits associated with chronic disease may strain household budgets and community health care systems.
· Asthma and arthritis remain the most common chronic illnesses in the county. In 2008, the last year for which complete data are available, 16 percent of all residents suffered from arthritis, while 14 percent had asthma (an 8 percent increase since 1998).
· In 1998, 3.9 percent of county residents had diabetes; in 2008, over 8 percent reported diabetes. The two major factors influencing the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes (which accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all cases) are eating high calorie, low nutrient foods and lack of physical activity.
· Cancer was the leading cause of death in San Mateo County in 2008, accounting for almost 26 percent of all deaths. Heart disease—the leading cause of death in the state—was the second most common, at 24.4 percent.
· There are a number of risk factors that indicate a higher risk for premature death or illness, among them, smoking, lack of exercise, and poor diet. Among these factors, 71 percent of adults in the county do not consume enough vegetables and fruits, and almost 19 percent get no exercise. More than 70 percent of all adults in San Mateo County eat too few fruits and vegetables, a key risk factor in premature death. Almost 19 percent of adults get no exercise.
Years of Potential Life Lost and Life Expectancy
Years of potential life lost (YPLL) is a metric commonly used by public health departments to measure the impact of premature mortality in a population. YPLL is the difference between the average life expectancy in a population and the number of years a person (or in aggregate, a population) would have lived without dying prematurely.
· Average years of YPLL for the county as a whole have decreased steadily since 1992 from 631 years of potential life lost per 10,000 residents between 1992-1994 to 420 years between 2006-2008.
· YPLL varies by ethnicity (YPLL data by income are not available). From 2006-08, YPLL rates among Black residents were more than double that of Asian and White residents.
· At the same time, YPLL rates have decreased by 37 percent among Blacks since 1996-98, from about 1,304 years lost per 10,000 residents to 822, while YPLL rates increased slightly among both Asian and Hispanic residents.
· Infant mortality shows similar correlations among races. Infant mortality among Blacks is more than twice that of all other races.