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Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows health rankings lower

Kristen Thompson and dog Hollie get some fresh and exercise on 124th Avenue, Thursday. - Tim Fitzgerald
Kristen Thompson and dog Hollie get some fresh and exercise on 124th Avenue, Thursday.
— image credit: Tim Fitzgerald

Residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are more likely to binge drink and smoke than people in the rest of the Lower Mainland, according to a survey released by Fraser Health this week.

The My Health My Community survey compiled date based on 33,000 survey responses across Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health.

Locals also don’t feel like they’re in tip-top shape.

Maple Ridge ranked among the lowest in the region for self-rated general health.

Just 43 per cent of respondents in Maple Ridge, and 45 per cent in Pitt Meadows, said they were in excellent or very good. That compares with 49 per cent in Metro Vancouver.

The two cities also had some of the lowest rankings for self-rated mental health.

In Maple Ridge 52 per cent, and in Pitt Meadows 48 per cent, rated their mental health excellent or very good, compared with 57 per cent for Metro Vancouver overall.

Around one in seven reported smoking, and one in four reported binge drinking at least once per month.

Less than half met physical activity recommendation, and less than one in four were consuming five-plus servings of fruits and vegetables.

The results are still being considered by health care professionals here.

Lucie Zaharoff, spokesperson for the Maple Ridge Division of Family Practice, said the group that represents local doctors will review the survey.

“The division will look at the statistics that were collected, and look at some of the actions we can take,” she said. “It’s interesting for sure.”

She said residents should not be alarmed that they are less healthy.

“I looked at the results for other areas, and nobody is perfect. For every community there was a positive and a negative.”

She is the lead spokesperson for the initiative A GP for Me which has recruited more family doctors to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and said having a family doctor is a key determinant in long-term health.

The report also notes that Maple Ridge has a very active Social Planning Advisory Committee (SPAC), which has undertaken many health initiatives such as a Housing Action Plan, an Age Friendly Community Plan, and a Food Policy Action Plan.

Coun. Bob Masse is Maple Ridge council’s representative on SPAC.

He said people with higher levels of education are generally healthier, and SPAC has spent two years working to have post-secondary programs offered in Maple Ridge.

Last month, he said SPAC had a productive meeting with Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson, and it left him optimistic that there will be better education opportunities here in the future.

He called it “a significant step.”

University grads are twice as likely to report their health as excellent or very good, and 60 per cent more likely to report excellent or very good mental heath, compared to high school graduates.

“Socio-economics and education are huge factors in health,” said Masse.

“Our kids do not have the same education opportunities.

He noted that the survey found Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows enjoy higher per capita incomes that the rest of the region overall. However, he said a significant part of the community has economic challenges, that can lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Even though every community in Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health beat the Canadian average for physical activity guidelines, as many as one in four residents are considered obese, a major risk factor for chronic disease onset.

With 33,000 responses, this is the largest community health survey ever conducted in B.C.

“The survey is like a blood-test for our communities. The results provide us with valuable information that our Medical Health Officers can use to ‘diagnose’ the health of our region.

We can then focus our work with municipalities and local stakeholders to create a roadmap of good health for the future,” said Dr. Victoria Lee, chief medical health officer, Fraser Health.

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