Yolo County residents are among the healthiest in the state, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
They have ready access to a physician and are more apt to carry health insurance. Yolo mothers are more likely to receive prenatal care. Fewer people smoke.
But Yolo health leaders believe the county can do better. To that end, they rolled out a new Healthy Yolo initiative last week at Davis' weekly farmers market.
Over the next 18 months, Healthy Yolo representatives will talk with residents about their neighborhoods' health concerns at open houses and community forums. They will team up with community groups, health providers and others to direct resources where they are needed.
Yolo County Health Officer Constance Caldwell said obesity remains the "single biggest" health problem.
She also said too many residents lack access to dental care in the largely rural county; Yolo has just one dentist for every 2,200 residents, well below the state ratio of 1 for every 1,400.
Yolo County ranked No. 5 in California in health outcomes based on quality of health and absence of premature death in 2013 in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's County Health Rankings. The county ranked No. 11 in health factors, which include an array of data, from high school graduation rates to prevalence of smokers.
Despite being in the top tier of California counties, Yolo officials hope to reach more of public health's traditional base of disadvantaged residents, as well as emphasize preventative care among the greater community, said Mark Harlan, Healthy Yolo's program director.
"Engaging groups out there, being in the community is an important first step," Harlan said, mentioning the Yolo County Fair and a planned trip to the Washington Unified School District in West Sacramento as among the organization's next stops.
As part of the county-funded $156,000 program, Yolo officials will survey residents on their most pressing health needs, their communities' quality of life and what they do to stay healthy.
Meanwhile, experts will crunch census and other data to show how demographics and other information shape Yoloans' health, all to take a hard look at how the county delivers public health.
Amid the tables of handpicked berries, homemade pies and farm-fresh vegetables at the Davis market, visitors embarked on a "tour" of the county's health status at Healthy Yolo's stand. They saw statistics on Yolo fares in areas such as heart disease and poverty.
A handwritten sign among the county health factoids asked marketgoers, "What does a healthy county mean to you?"
Joel Mendell of Davis took the question to heart. At 66, he said he thinks about his health more and more.
"If you don't have your health, you don't have much (so) I'm trying to educate myself," Mendell said. "The more people are personally involved in educating themselves about health issues, the more likely they are to act healthily. It's a good way of changing behavior."
Three local counties landed near the top of a 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranking of "health outcomes" that considered premature deaths, birth weight and measurements of mental and physical health.
1. Marin County
2. Placer County
3. Santa Clara County
4. San Mateo County
5. Yolo County
6. El Dorado County
30. Sacramento County
Call The Bee's Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.