Mar 27, 2024 - News

Multnomah County among healthiest in U.S., report finds

<span style="text-align: center; display: block"> 2024 County Health Factors rankings</span>
Data: County Health Rankings; Note: Factors include the prevalence of healthy behaviors, quality of clinical care, socio-economic indicators and physical environment; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

Multnomah County residents are healthier than most of the nation, according to a new report.

Why it matters: Multnomah County has a lower rate of premature death and a lower share of adults reporting they're in poor physical health compared to the rest of the country.

  • That's according to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, program of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Yes, but: Our mental health is below the national average.

  • Multnomah County adults reported that their mental health was not good on 5.8 of the previous 30 days. The national average is 4.8 days.

Between the lines: Multnomah County's generally high health outcomes are driven by several factors, including lower-than-average rates of obesity, and low rates of teen births and smoking.

  • Almost all Multnomah County residents report living close to a park or recreation facility, another factor measured in the report.
  • Residents also have better access to doctors and mental health care providers than the rest of the country.
  • Nearly 80% of Oregon's counties have better health factors than the national average, the rest of the state is about average and no counties are below average.

Zoom out: Eight Oregon counties — Benton, Linton, Clackamas, Washington, Wallowa, Polk, Yamhill and Deschutes — ranked higher than Multnomah when it came to health outcomes.

The fine print: The health indicators measured in the study included social and economic factors, like high school completion and unemployment rates, as well as pollution levels, access to doctors and commuting time.

What they're saying: Places with strong civic infrastructure, such as broadband internet access and public libraries, "are often healthier," the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps said in a news release.

  • "These counties are often located in the Northeast and Western regions of the country and tend to also experience more social and economic opportunities and longer life expectancy," per a statement announcing the findings.
  • "These findings are due to our health-related policies and programs and our demonstrable commitment to equity," Rachael Banks, Multnomah County Health Department director told Axios.

Reality check: Some urban areas on the West Coast such as King County (Seattle) and San Francisco County have better outcomes than Portland and are some of the healthiest populations in the nation.

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