Marin is ranked the healthiest county in California for the seventh consecutive year, but needs to improve some health and social inequalities, the county's Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday.
The rankings released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation show Marin County ranked highest in life expectancy, the lowest rates of adults reporting fair or poor health and in teen births. The county also placed second in the number of adults with a healthy body weight, its low rate of unemployment and violent crime.
The county's investments in preserving open space land, healthy eating and staying active help keep Marin at the top of the list, according to Dr. Gary Colfax, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Marin County, however, needs to focus on increasing equity in health care coverage, access to healthy food, early childhood education and job training to enable all residents to optimize their health, Colfax said.
Marin County was 54th among 57 counties that reported data in income inequality as measured by the ratio between the highest incomes - above 80 percent of the median - and the lowest incomes - below 20 percent of the median.
The data ranked the county poorly - 50th among 56 counties reporting - in racial segregation between whites and non-whites.
Racial segregation can lead to disparities in income, educational and work opportunities that translate to poor health outcomes, the Department of Health and Human Services said.
There is a 15-year gap between the 94-year life expectancy in Ross and the 79-year life expectancy in Marin City correlated to per capita income, according to the report.
The Health and Human Services Department has a nutrition wellness program in schools with high obesity rates that can cause heart disease and other conditions leading to premature death, and Marin City has walk to school programs, school gardens and marketing programs to attract health-conscious grocery stores, county officials said.
"There is much more to do to achieve health equity in Marin," Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said. "We need to bolster programs and policies that address poverty, jobs, housing and education."
Marin was in the top 5 percent of counties regarding its low
number of adults who smoke and its uninsured adults, and its high percentages of adults who graduate high school and the number of primary care and mental health providers per capita.
It's in the bottom 50 percent regarding excessive drinking, alcohol impaired driving, drug poisoning mortality rate and the percentage of workers who drive alone on a long commute.