Essex County Needs a Check Up

Lately we’ve been confronted by a lot of negative rankings about our state. First, there was the poll claiming that New Jersey is viewed more negatively than any other state but California. Then there is the sobering news that New Jersey has the highest number of toxic sites in the nation. (On the plus side, at least we do really well when it comes to education.)

Now comes more bad news—and this time, it’s about Essex County. In a national study released yesterday, our county was ranked the third least healthy in the state, scoring higher than only Salem and Cumberland counties.

The study, conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, measured mortality, morbidity, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment within each county.

According to the study’s findings, 19 percent of Essex County residents are in poor or fair health, 26 percent are obese, and 10.6 percent are born with a low birthweight. The county also has high rates of physical inactivity and sexually transmitted disease. Adding to the burden is an 11 percent poverty rate, compared to 9.5 in the rest of the state.

At the top of the county rankings is Hunterdon, where only 9 percent of residents are considered in poor or fair health, followed by Somerset, Morris, Bergen and Sussex counties.


Photo by randomplaces via flickr

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  1. I saw this article. This is appalling. We live in one of the wealthiest counties in the state and we come in 19th out of 21 in a health ranking. Talk about a disconnect!

  2. Well, the way I see it is that we have decent health care and top doctors in Essex but a lot of peeps don’t have access to them, particularly in the low-income urban areas. Plus not enough access to healthy food and/or places to exercise. All adds up to disaster.

  3. Times have changed. When I was in elementary school, there was one seemingly very overweight boy or girl in every class. When was the last time you saw an elementary or middle school class all lined up somewhere? Half of the kids are seriously obese. Like most people, I slowly put weight on through my thirtes and beyond. And am unhappy with my current weight. But I see many guys in their 20s who are massive. 300 pounds plus. What are they going to look like in 20 years when their metabolism comes to a grinding halt? Bad bad scene. We’ll be a whole nation of diabetics.

  4. I notice that, too, Yougotta, and not just with kids. Take a look at old black and white snapshots from the 40s and 50s, even the 60s. Most of the people were lean, in an Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck sort of way. Of course, there were overweight people but not as many as today. And back then you rarely saw someone classified as obese or morbidly obese.

  5. Unhealthy? It’s not our fault. Blame:

    Dicky Dees, Jimmy Buffs, Rutts Hut, Hot Grill, Polska Smak, Star Tavern, Belgiovine, Lakeside Deli BLT’s,Frank Anthony’s, Church’s Chicken , McWhorters, Tierney’s and of course the long passed Rex’s Fish and Chips in Vailsburg.
    It’s not our fault, there are just too many temptations.

  6. Sometimes, weight gain can be medical. I was so frustrated because I could not lose weight so I finally went to the doctor. It turned out I had an underactive thyroid. My metabolism was shot. Sooo…If you are overweight, please get a physical to make sure nothing is awry in your body.

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