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Study: San Diego County ranks 15th in overall health

San Diego ranks 15th among 56 California counties in terms of the overall health of its residents but trails most other regions when it comes to air quality and access to nutritious food, according to a new national study.

The County Health Rankings study, which determined overall health based on levels of various diseases, the rate of deaths before age 75 and the prevalence of babies born underweight, was conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison for the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Thursday.

California’s highest-ranking counties exist primarily from the Bay Area to the Sierra Nevada, while the state’s least healthy populations are in the Inland Empire, Central Valley and Northern California, according to the study.

San Diego County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten told the Union-Tribune it’s no coincidence that higher-ranking counties are among California’s most affluent areas.

“This speaks clearly that where you live matters,” Wooten said.

California has 58 counties but two - Sierra and Alpine - were not included in the study because their populations are too small, the Union-Tribune reported.

San Diego also ranked 15th for social and economic factors such as education, unemployment, poverty and violent crime; 20th for medical care; 23rd for health behaviors such as tobacco use, diet, exercise and risky sexual activity; and 40th for physical environment. Physical environment includes air quality and access to nutritious food.