PORTLAND, Ore. — A new national report on life expectancy found that the population with the very lowest rate in the state of Oregon resides in part of Medford. On the flipside, the same report found that the state's highest life expectancy rate could be found in northwest Portland.
The report, compiled from census data as part of the U.S. Small-Area Life Expectancy Estimates Project (USALEEP) found that an area of Portland bordering Forest Park had a life expectancy of 89.1 years, the highest in the state.
Meanwhile, an area of central Medford along the west side of I-5 had the lowest in the state at 66.2 years—meaning that, on average, people in this area of the city will die before even seeing the second half of their 66th year.
"This report tells us we have a lot of work to do to ensure everyone in Oregon has a chance to achieve optimal health no matter where they live, work, play, learn and age," said Katrina Hedberg, M.D., M.P.H., state health officer and epidemiologist at the Public Health Division. "In Oregon, as in other parts of the country, that’s not happening."
According to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Center for Health Statistics, the state average life expectancy is 79.6 years—slightly above the national average of 78.8 years.
But the report found that "opportunities for people to be healthy" can vary widely based on the neighborhood they live in—even separated by a handful of miles within the same city, according to OHA. Life expectancy in areas of southeast Eugene is 87.9 years, while 70.2 years is the average across town in a northwest section of the city.
"Where a person calls home should not influence longevity, but it does," said Hedberg. "We need to continue examining factors that affect neighborhood-by-neighborhood differences we see in these data."
OHA says that the state has been working to identify and address weaknesses in healthcare availability and effectiveness, as demonstrated in their yearly health assessment report.
The assessment is the first step toward updating Oregon’s "State Health Improvement Plan," according to OHA, which is meant to guide state and local public health interventions. It found that social factors such as housing affordability, food insecurity and educational outcomes continue to undermine improvements in health outcomes—despite some strides in reducing opioid-related deaths, HIV infection, teen pregnancy rates and smoking rates.
USALEEP is a joint effort of the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report represents the first time that nationwide census tract-level life expectancy estimates, based on state death records and population estimates from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, have been available.
On the dubious "bright" side, a new study from financial website WalletHub found one thing that all Oregonians can bemoan equally.
In WalletHub's 2018 "Happiest States in America" results, the site found that Oregon as a whole has the nation's highest share of adult depression—in fact, Oregon had 2.2 times as many cases as New York, which had the lowest.
Oregon also comes in at #39 in overall happiness out of all 50 states. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hawaii ranked as the happiest state. West Virginia ranked as the lowest.
WalletHub also found that Oregon tied at #2 (with Rhode Island) for Fewest Work Hours.
For more on the WalletHub study, visit the webpage here.
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