Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

State of South LA's well-being: So-so, according to new rankings

Embattled Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) Addresses The Media

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Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) is the head of a congressional district that had a poor showing in newly-released rankings of well being: Her CA-43 placed 368th among 436 districts, pulling especially bad scores in the area of basic access to resources like health and dental care.

California's ranking when it comes to general well-being is nothing to brag about, but at least it's not West Virginia.

Gallup-Healthways released its annual list of well-being rankings on Thursday, in which it surveys and evaluates all 50 states. For 2012, California took home a relatively undistinguished No.-18 ranking, giving it bragging rights over states like New York (No. 30) and beleaguered West Virginia (No. 50).

But look at it this way – geographically speaking, you can't get any closer to greatness than the Golden State did. Hawaii, more than 2,000 miles away from the mainland, took No. 1.

Pollsters looked at six areas:

  • Life evaluation: This measure combines a person's evaluation of their "present life situation" with her or his "anticipated life situation" in five years.
  • Physical health: This looked at factors like body mass index (weight), diseases and sick days taken.
  • Emotional health: This took experiences like depression, anger, happiness, worry and stress into account.
  • Healthy behavior: Surveyors looked at whether respondents smoked and how healthy their eating and exercise habits were.
  • Work environment: This looked at how people perceived work and measured job satisfaction, the ability to use their strengths at work, how people's bosses treated them and whether they worked in a trusting, open workplace.
  • Basic access: This measured respondents' access to resources like clean water, medicine, a safe place to exercise, affordable produce and access to health and dental care.

Although California as a whole was 18th-best in the union, it was the fifth-best when it came to healthy behavior. But the state's performance dropped off in a big way in the area of basic access: State residents' access to what the survey called "necessities crucial to high well-being" placed 43rd.

On a more local level, Los Angeles County ranked a fairly mediocre 52nd among nearly 200 major metropolitan areas across the nation. It garnered high rankings for physical health (No. 37) and healthy behavior (No. 25). Like California, though, L.A. did poorly when it came to "basic access," ranking 151st.

South Los Angeles was also included in the rankings – surveyors broke down the numbers by congressional district. The southside is broken up into roughly four districts:

CA-37 (Rep. Karen Bass): Overall: ranked 58th out of 436 congressional districts nationwide. The story here is CA-37's incredible leap from a ranking of 268th to 58th between 2011 and 2012. It's doing particularly well in the areas of life evaluation (No. 25 out of 436), emotional health (No. 59), physical health (No. 66) and healthy behavior (No. 33). It's floundering when it comes to basic access, though, ranking 378th.

CA-40 (Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard): Overall: ranked 94th out of 436 districts. Its strong areas are physical health (No. 77) and work environment (No. 38). CA-40 has made some major improvements in emotional health, jumping from a 2011 ranking of 293 to 119 in 2012. Its basic access ranking got worse, though: It fell from No. 116 to No. 188.

CA-43 (Rep. Maxine Waters): Overall: ranked 368th out of 436 district. CA-43 isn't pulling particularly strong numbers in any of the areas that were evaluated – it's ranked at No. 428 for basic access. Mediocre was as good as it got in this district: Physical health and healthy behavior were ranked 195th and 202nd, respectively.

CA-44 (Rep. Janice Hahn): Overall: ranked 236th out of 436. CA-44 did poorly when it came to emotional health (No. 412) and work environment (No. 380). The state of the district's physical health and healthy behavior also worsened between 2011 and 2012. It garnered its best ranking in the "life evaluation" category: 93rd.

Rounding out the top five states with the best well-being were Colorado, Minnesota, Utah and Vermont. Among congressional districts, the well-being among the constituents of CA-48 in Orange County was ranked No. 1.

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