Central Valley counties among the least healthy in state, rankings show

FRESNO, Calif. - In the 2017 County Health Rankings, counties in the Central Valley placed low on a number of categories. The rankings looked at factors, like smoking, air pollution and access to health care.

Fresno County in particular ranked the lowest in one ranking measuring quality of life.

For Dave Luchini, assistant director at the Fresno County Public Health Department, the rankings were not a surprise. He said Fresno County and surrounding counties have traditionally placed low on those kind of rankings.

"We have high rates of concentrated poverty, dirty air and higher unemployment rates than the rest of the state," Luchini said.

Sandra Celedon, hub manager at Fresno Building Healthy Communities (BHC), said another big reason the Central Valley is traditionally unhealthy is because some neighborhoods don't have access to healthy food.

She said the rankings should serve as a reality check for leaders in public health, as well as residents as a whole. To remind them communities have needs, like parks and grocery stores.

"We know that complete communities that have all opportunities and amenities that residents need to live healthy help create healthy people," Celedon said.

By addressing those needs, Celedon believes it will encourage healthy behavior.

"We have to get to a point in our county where we make healthy behaviors the norm and it's an easy choice to choose to walk instead of drive to the grocery store," she said.

Celedon stresses it will take a team effort to get there, and Luchini agrees with her.

"One agency or organization will not be successful by itself. We also won't be successful if we don't work together," Luchini said.

To see all the rankings yourself, you can click here. You can see how the counties in our area ranked overall below (note this is out of 57 counties):

  • Kings County: 37th
  • Mariposa County: 38th
  • Madera County: 45th
  • Merced County: 49th
  • Tulare County: 50th
  • Fresno County: 52nd

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