Benton County: 2nd Healthiest County

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CORVALLIS, Ore. — Benton County was ranked Oregon’s second healthiest county in a state-by-state effort by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to promote public health.

Rain or shine, people in Corvallis make time to fit exercise into their day.

“If it was raining, I’d still be working out. As soon as the sun breaks through, I notice a lot of people running outside,” said Michael Abraham.

“We like to get out and hike and bike and use all the great trails and bike paths,” said Bre Stotsenberg.

It’s the active and healthy lifestyle that helped Benton County take the second spot in a national study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“You just have to drive down the street, and you’ll see people on their bikes and running and using all of our paths,” says Stotsenberg.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin compared overall health in counties state by state, in areas like death rate, physical and mental health and low infant birth weight rate. The Benton County Health Department credits its low unemployment rate and high educational achievement but says there’s still work to be done.

“There’s a real problem with disparity. We have a large population that does very well but a significant population that struggles. About 20 percent of the kids in Benton County live in homes that have food insecurities, and unfortunately about half of those families still earn too much to qualify for food stamps or WIC,” says Deputy director Charlie Fautin.

Benton County was knocked out of first place for the first time since the rankings started in 2010 by Grant County. Fautin congratulated them but says he’s eager to reclaim the throne.

“We have our sights on getting back to the top position,” says Fautin.

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