A Rash of Rankings

Jeff Alworth

I'm not sure what these three rankings mean, but they all floated past my consciousness today. Perhaps you can knit them together in an elegant narrative.

First up, the Department of Energy reports that Portland General Electric has more people signed up for renewable energy than any other utility in the nation. At 10.2%, that's five times the national average. (Though I see room to grow.)

Next up, OPB reports that Oregon has the lowest incidence of childhood obesity in the nation. Oregon is just under ten percent, compared to a national average of 16%. And here's even better news:

Oregon is the only state whose childhood obesity rate fell significantly between 2003 and 2007.

Finally, Forbes released its annual list of most livable cities and Oregon had ... none. Forbes looks at a number of criteria, including unemployment, crime, income growth, the cost of living, and artistic and cultural opportunities. Given Oregon's unemployment, I guess it's not shocking that we missed the cut. Pittsburgh took top honors. But seriously, would you rather live in Oregon or Provo, Utah (number 3)? There's livable and then there's livable.

(My criteria involve brewpubs.)

I guess we just have to content ourselves with our svelte kids and high rates of renewable energy subscription.

  • (Show?)


    You can't buy Polygamy Porter in Provo?

  • (Show?)

    don't we have one of the highest rates of childhood hunger in the nation, too? that might, unfortunately, have something to do with our obesity rates.

    • (Show?)

      No, not likely. Hunger and obesity actually have a direct relationship, not an inverse one.

      People who have food insecurity typically end up relying on low-cost, high-fat foods (i.e. Big Macs) rather than on healthier and more expensive stuff like fresh veggies and fruits.

      I haven't seen the latest food security numbers for Oregon, but there's definitely been a strong push at all levels of government and the nonprofit sector to address the issue after we were ranked #1 several years ago.

  • (Show?)

    I am a little shocked that only 10% of us have signed up the green energy option with PGE and only 6.5% with Pacific Power. On average, my family is paying less than $10 a month for this program. I'll lose two lattes or a burger for lunch to support renewables.

  • (Show?)

    The childhood obesity problem can be succinctly summed up: high fructose corn syrup.

    So I guess Oregon kids are getting somewhat less of that evil substance than are kids nationwide.

    Of course, the most widely-used no calorie sweetener, aspartame, is even worse for a person than is the high-fructose, as aspartame is composed of an excitotoxin (cumulative use causes neurological damage) and wood alcohol. See a film entitled, "Sweet Misery".

    The FDA has since the 1980s classified an all-natural, no calorie sweetener, stevia, as a "dangerous chemical additive." Even with this crap being spewed by the FDA, Blue Sky is now making soft drinks sweetened with stevia and are available in the U.S.

    The FDA is totally bought-and-paid-for by industry which manufactures things for your consumption which are not healthy.

  • (Show?)

    An Oregonian article in today's paper sheds more light on the obesity issue.


    Factors that increase it include watching TV, lack of parks, and poor medical care. Black and Latino kids also suffer higher rates--but this is obviously an effect, not a cause. (And although wags will rightly point out that Oregon is pretty snowy white, during the period when Oregon's rate of childhood obesity dropped, it also became less white.)

    No one knows what it means, but epidemiologists are going to scrutinize Oregon. If you're a researcher here looking for a grant from HHS, now's the time to strike.

    • (Show?)

      Oregonians are also public health leaders--we were way out in front in getting junk food out of schools and menu labeling. What we don't have is great support for PE and movement in school.

  • (Show?)

    One of the articles I read on Oregon's childhood obesity rate mentioned our high rates of breast feeding as one potential explanation. I thought that was pretty interesting (though unproven, of course).

    More interesting speculation: the article also mentions the correlation between race and childhood obesity (even after controlling for income levels) and points out that Oregon is 90% white.

connect with blueoregon