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For Immediate Release:
March 31, 2004
For more information contact:
Maria Iacobo
213/240-8144 or 213/990-7107/pager

Los Angeles County Health “Report Card” Highlights Major Differences in Residents’ Health Status Report highlights health status of residents; Trends show little progress some issues.

Los Angeles – Are Los Angeles County residents enjoying good health? The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services has released a publication akin to a report card for over 60 health indicators for L.A. County and each of the its eight Service Planning Areas (SPAs). “Key Indicators of Health” provides residents with a glance of how well their community compares to the rest of the county, while identifying wise investments for health care dollars and policy to lawmakers and community-based agencies. “Communities can make a huge difference in improving the health of their residents, and this report provides information useful to all communities” said Jonathan Fielding, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Public Health and Health Officer. “Disparities in health status persist. This report highlights urgent priorities for some communities.” For example, Antelope Valley (SPA 1), compared to the county overall, had significantly higher rates of poor respiratory health among adults and children: smoking, second-hand smoke exposure, asthma, and lung cancer mortality. In the most central area of the county, Metro (SPA 4) had significantly higher rates of AIDS and tuberculosis compared to the county overall. “In addition to geographic comparisons, the report identifies health concerns for the county as a whole. For example, regardless of where you live, rates of smoking and physical inactivity are too high, and consumption of fruits and vegetables are too low,” said Fielding. Among the most significant health trends in Los Angeles County is the rise in the prevalence of obesity, which went from 14% to 19% among adults in the County from 1997 to 2002-03. In addition, there has been a near 50% increase in diabetes mortality over the past decade. Higher rates of diabetes among African-Americans and Latinos, (compared to whites and Asian/Pacific Islanders) and in certain areas of the County (combined with increases in the obesity) suggest that there are areas of the County that will bear a disproportionately large burden of illness and death related to diabetes. These are also the areas of the County that have the poorest access to health care services.

Report underscores opportunities to invest in future health Rapid increases in health care costs (currently at $1.6 trillion annually) provide a powerful incentive to reduce the burden of illness and lost productivity in our society. For example, trends in overweight and obesity already account for 400,000 deaths in the U.S. each year with an annual price tag in excess of $3.4 billion in Los Angeles County alone. Metro (SPA 4) and South (SPA 6) were significantly more likely to be perceived as unsafe, and less likely to have playgrounds and other safe places for children to play. In addition, these areas had significantly higher rates of overweight children as well as high school dropout rates. The South (SPA 6) had higher mortality rates due to cardiovascular disease and stroke, and significantly higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and physical inactivity. In the East (SPA 7) rates of obesity and overweight among adults and children were significantly higher compared to the County overall, as were the mortality rates due to diabetes. “If current trends are not reversed we will be pay an ever-growing economic and medical toll in future years” said Cheryl Wold., M.P.H., Chief of Health Assessment Unit, the program responsible for the report. For a complete copy of the report, log on to www.lacountyhealth.org/ha.

Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control and community and family health and comprises more than 4,000 employees with an annual budget exceeding $600 million. 03/31