Health improves in some, but not all, King County areas

October 20, 2009

By Staff

King County residents continue to enjoy generally improved health in many areas, with long life expectancies and low mortality from injuries and some chronic diseases. However, some trends are worsening or not improving, and health gains are not being experienced equally by all communities.These and other health trends can be found in the completely updated Community Health Indicators, a project that provides comprehensive data and health trends in accessible formats to members of the community, organizations and researchers. Go to

Community Health Indicators provides information on a range of health indicators, including life expectancy, causes of death, maternal and child health, chronic diseases, communicable diseases, access to care and risk factors, such as obesity, physical activity and smoking. Data, graphs and maps show how these indicators vary by age, race/ethnicity, poverty, gender and geography in the county.

King County residents are doing relatively well compared to U.S. statistics and similar counties nationwide, but the county is not meeting many of the national Healthy People 2010 goals.

Community Health Indicators reports

In 2007, King County residents overall had a life expectancy at birth of 81.5 years, but blacks and American Indians/Alaska Natives on average had lower life expectancies.

Cancer and heart disease are the leading causes of death in King County. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for residents between ages 1 and 44.

Health gains are not being experienced equally. Large racial, income and geographic inequities continue.

Health improvements

Injuries: Deaths from homicide, suicide, and motor vehicle accidents continue to decline.

Chronic diseases: Deaths from breast cancer, colorectal cancer, heart disease and stroke continue to decline.

Smoking continues to decline among King County adults.

Health concerns

12.5 percent, or about 153,000 King County adults age 18-64, reported no health insurance coverage in 2008.

The adolescent birth rate is no longer continuing a decadelong decline and is rising in portions of the county.

Increasing percentages of mothers/infants received either no prenatal care during pregnancy or began prenatal care late, in the third trimester.

Late or no prenatal care can lead to worse pregnancy outcomes.

Both obesity and deaths related to diabetes continue to increase.

Almost 70 percent of King County residents met physical activity recommendations in 2007, and 85 percent reported at least some physical activity in the last month. However, 20 percent to 30 percent of the people of color, low-income individuals and south county residents did not participate in any physical activity.

Community Health Indicators at also includes links to AimsHigh, the King County performance indicator Web site, where users can view related data on Public Health performance.

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One Response to “Health improves in some, but not all, King County areas”

  1. Bonnie Fritz on October 26th, 2009 8:57 am

    Thanks for the update regarding our health report in King County. This is a good reminder that we do have a long ways to go and finding secure funding for public health is vital to making improvements so that we all have equal access to health care and quality of life.

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