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MoCo Touts High Marks In Life Expectancy, Smoking Prevalence Studies

by Aaron Kraut — April 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm 249 0

People walking down the sidewalk at Bethesda Row (file photo)Women in Montgomery County are expected to live for 84.9 years, the second longest life expectancy for women in any county or county-equivalent in the United States, according to a Seattle-based health research center.

According to the same study, men in Montgomery County (at 81.6 years) are tied for the second longest life expectancy of any county in the country.

Montgomery County on Wednesday cited that study and a corresponding county-level obesity study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) as evidence that Montgomery is among the healthiest of 3,143 counties in the country.

“We have all known that Montgomery County was one of the best places in America to live, work and raise a family,” County Executive Isiah Leggett said in a press release. “Now we know it is one of the best places to live if you are planning on living as long as you can.”

The life expectancy and obesity studies aren’t exactly new. The IHME published those in July 2013. But together with a county-level study published last month on smoking prevalence, the overall picture of Montgomery County is indeed one that suggests it’s among the healthiest places in the country.

Montgomery County ranked No. 11 in the country when it came to the least amount of women who smoke, with just 9.7 percent estimated to smoke. The IHME study estimated only 13.4 percent of men in Montgomery County are prevalent smokers, good for the No. 12 ranking in that measure.

The 2013 life expectancy study found women were living five years longer in 2010 than they were in 1985 and that men in Montgomery County were living seven years longer than they were in 1985.

Montgomery males trailed only Fairfax County, Va. in the entire nation and tied with Gunnison and Pitkin Counties in Colorado. (Gunnison is home to Aspen, Col.). Females came in second behind only Marin County, Calif.

According to the 2013 obesity prevalence study, 24.9 percent of county women were obese in 2009 and 23.9 percent of men were obese in 2009. Both those marks put the county in the top 10 percent of the country when it came to the least amount of obese residents.

“There are many factors at work here — income, employment, broad access to quality health care, a focus on public health, our excellent parks and recreational facilities, and more. The more I think about it, though, the more I believe our County education system is a key factor. Educational excellence contributes to raising self-awareness and to the ability of County residents to get good jobs, provide stability for their families, and support a strong tax base with strong social services,” Leggett said.

“These statistics show that Montgomery County is making measurable progress in our public health efforts,” Councilmember George Leventhal said in the press release.

Leventhal is chair of the Council’s Health & Human Services Committee and the backer of many health related bills, such as the 2009 law that requires large restaurant chains to include calorie counts on menus. Montgomery County was among the first jurisdictions in the country to enact the calorie count law.

“Our goal should be a culture of wellness, where every resident has access to affordable medical care, pays attention to his or her diet, exercises, keeps fit, feels good and maintains a high quality of life.”

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