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Oregon: some good news & a lot of bad news

Report: Oregon becomes far less healthy

… The Oregonian/OregonLive – December 10, 2015 by Lynne Terry …

The country has made progress in a few key health care areas but Oregon slid backwards, according to a report released Thursday.

The 2015 United Health Foundation‘s rankings said fewer people smoked compared with last year’s report and more got vaccinated. Infant deaths and cardiovascular fatalities also fell. The healthiest state, and for the fourth year running, was Hawaii while Louisiana landed on bottom.

As for Oregon, the state stood out but not in a good way: It fell from 12th to 20th place.

“It’s unusual to fall or rise that dramatically over the course of a year,” said Dr. Rhonda Randall, a senior adviser to the foundation.

The report, “America’s Health Rankings,” rates states on a wide range of factors, including crime, immunizations, availability of health care professionals and disease and deaths.

Oregon’s ranking was hurt by an increase in childhood poverty, which affects nearly 20 percent of the youth, the report said. The state was also hit with a surge in whooping cough cases and an increase in disparity in health status by education level.

“We realize that more must be done to improve the health of all people in Oregon and to address persistent health inequities experienced by people of color; LGBT communities; and people with disabilities,” the Oregon Public Health Division said in a statement. “Improving the health of everyone in Oregon is complex and takes time, and no single sector or agency can solve them on its own.”

Though the state’s high school graduation rate hasn’t changed much, with about one-third of students not completing high school with their class, other states improved enough to put Oregon on the bottom in 2013. Oregon climbed four notches for the class of 2014 though the state’s rate for white students was still last.

The graduation rate is important because high school dropouts die about five years sooner than people who graduate from college. They’re also four times more likely to smoke and twice as likely to be obese.

“If people who did not have a high school education had as good of health as those who were college educated, our nation could save $1 trillion annually,” Randall said. “That’s one more reason to stay in school.”

Oregon’s low immunization rates continued to dog the state, though the public health officials said the percentage of kindergarteners claiming an exemption fell from 7 percent to just under 6 percent. Oregon also had a high incidence of chronic drinking, consuming eight or more drinks a week for women and 15 or more for men. Nearly 20 percent of the population reported drinking heavily. Excessive alcohol consumption causes liver disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and other health problems.

But not all was gloomy in the Oregon assessment. The report said the state had a high rate of physical activity, low birth rate, low incidence of infectious disease and relatively large number of dentists. Drug deaths also dropped while health insurance coverage increased. The state also had a low incidence in cardiovascular deaths, the second-best nationwide.

And Oregonians are doing well at eating their fruits and veggies, the report said.

 

 

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