Bexar County does worse in national health ranking

Early death, obesity, inactive lifestyle cited as problems


SAN ANTONIO - A national study of the health and well-being of people in just about every U.S. county was released Wednesday, showing Bexar County losing ground in terms of having healthy residents.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced its rankings on health indicators ranging from access to doctors to healthy lifestyles.

Michelle Larkin, of the RWJF, said oral health is also being measured.

"This year, we added a new measure that looks at the availability of dentists in every county," Larkin said.

In Texas, the healthiest counties included Williamson north of Austin, followed by Collin, Denton and Rockwall in the Dallas area.

22 counties were not ranked, but of those that were, Polk, San Augustine and Shelby counties in East Texas were the unhealthiest.

In the San Antonio area, Kendall County was the healthiest (coming in at No. 5), followed by Comal (No. 9), Guadalupe (No. 25), and Wilson (No. 64). Bexar (No. 86) and Atascosa (No. 177) were ranked the lowest in this area.

Dr. Anil Mangla, chief epidemiologist at Bexar County’s Metro Health Department, said Texas did well but Bexar County dropped a few notches.

"We're doing pretty well compared to the rest of the nation," Mangla said.

He said Bexar County dropped from No. 73 last year to No. 86 this year.

The study showed there is a greater risk of premature death here and an obesity problem brought on by an inactive lifestyle.

One big predictor of health according to the RWJF is income.

San Antonio has its share of low-income and poverty-stricken families -- families with little access to healthcare services or a healthy lifestyle.

Mangla said the county health department has little control over how people eat or whether they are unemployed, but it can focus on tobacco use and provide places to exercise.

"Can we have bike trails, can we have walking trails, and so if those things are out there people are going to use them," Mangla said.

He said diabetic screening has improved here and the county has other programs just getting started that should improve Bexar County's health.

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