Health Status

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Learn More About Health Status

Measures of Health Status on Kidsdata.org
On kidsdata.org, estimates of children's health status are based on self-reports (or parent reports, for younger children) of being generally in (a) excellent or very good health, (b) good health, or (c) fair or poor health. Data are available for children ages 0-17 overall, by income level, and by race/ethnicity.
Health Status
Asthma
Characteristics of Children with Special Needs
Family Income and Poverty
Student Demographics
Children's Emotional Health
Early Care and Education
Food Security
Cancer
Childhood Adversity and Resilience
Dental Care
Health Care
Nutrition
Physical Fitness
Weight
Why This Topic Is Important
Health status during childhood sets young people on a path toward good or poor health in adulthood (1, 2). Each stage of life influences the next, with early childhood in particular providing a foundation for future health and development (1, 2, 3). Children who face disadvantage—whether in household or neighborhood resources, education, family functioning, exposure to traumatic events, or other social factors—tend to fare worse on measures of health than other children (1, 4).

Promoting child health not only improves the lives of individual children and their families, it also strengthens the health of the next generation, which may have significant social and economic impacts (1, 2, 5). Healthier young people tend to become healthier and more educated adults who are better able to contribute to society, which means a stronger workforce and reduced strain on public service systems (2, 5). Thus, nurturing California's children today may improve the state's future social and economic well being (2, 6).
Monitoring the overall status of children's health is a critical step, as it allows policymakers, service providers, funders, and others to identify population trends and needs, and develop appropriate investments and strategies to support children and communities.

For more information, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Braveman, P., et al. (2014). Early childhood experiences shape health and well-being throughout life. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2014/08/early-childhood-experiences-shape-health-and-well-being-througho.html

2.  Rossin-Slater, M. (2015). Promoting health in early childhood. The Future of Children, 25(1), 35-64. Retrieved from: https://futureofchildren.princeton.edu/sites/futureofchildren/files/media/policies_to_promote_child_health_25_full_journal.pdf

3.  Richards, J., et al. (2017). Life course and social determinants: Professional resource brief. Maternal and Child Health Digital Library. Retrieved from: https://www.mchlibrary.org/professionals/lifecourse.php

4.  Artiga, S., & Hinton, E. (2018). Beyond health care: The role of social determinants in promoting health and health equity. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.kff.org/racial-equity-and-health-policy/issue-brief/beyond-health-care-the-role-of-social-determinants-in-promoting-health-and-health-equity

5.  Halfon, N., et al. (2014). The changing nature of children's health development: New challenges require major policy solutions. Health Affairs, 33(12), 2116-2124. Retrieved from: https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2014.0944

6.  Myers, D. (2013). California's diminishing resource: Children. Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health. Retrieved from: https://www.lpfch.org/publication/californias-diminishing-resource-children
How Children Are Faring
An estimated three-quarters (76%) of California children ages 0-17 were in excellent or very good health in 2017-2018, up from two-thirds (66%) in 2001. Across counties with data in 2017-2018, estimates of children in excellent or very good health ranged from less than 50% (Imperial and Madera) to more than 90% (El Dorado and San Francisco). In 2001, more than 1 in 12 California children (9%) were in fair or poor health; in 2017-2018 this proportion was about 1 in 20 (5%).

Children's health status varies by family income and race/ethnicity. In 2017-2018, an estimated 65% of California children living below 200% of their federal poverty threshold were in excellent or very good health, compared with 83% of children from higher-income families. Across race/ethnicity groups with data, rates of excellent or very good health status were highest among white (84%) and American Indian/Alaska Native children (80%), and lowest among Hispanic/Latino (71%) and multiracial children (73%).
Policy Implications
Child health is shaped by a broad range of social, economic, environmental, biological, and behavioral factors (1, 2). The circumstances in which children are born and grow up impact their health and well being throughout life (1, 3). Efforts to improve child health can be strengthened by recognizing the wide range of influences on children's lives, promoting cross-sector strategies that go beyond traditional health care, and helping to ensure that all children grow up in safe and supportive environments (2, 3, 4).

Policy and program options that could improve children's health status include:
  • Ensuring that every child has access to family centered, culturally competent, coordinated health care within a medical home (5)
  • Supporting a comprehensive approach to health care that goes beyond treating illness to addressing social determinants of health, ensuring that training and reimbursement mechanisms are in place for health care professionals to identify non-medical health needs and provide referrals to services (2, 3)
  • Fostering stable, nurturing family relationships and home environments through effective support and prevention services including comprehensive parenting education, family support, and home-visiting services for families in need (3, 6)
  • Maintaining, strengthening, and increasing enrollment among eligible families in social safety net programs, such as CalFresh (food stamps) and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program (4, 7)
  • Ensuring that high-quality early education and child care programs—which should include a focus on strengthening parenting skills—are available to all families, regardless of income (3, 4)
  • Continuing efforts to build neighborhoods that are safe and designed to promote health; as part of this, incentivizing and promoting cross-sector collaboration among urban planning, housing, transportation, health care, public health, education, and other sectors (2, 3, 6)
For more information, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section. Also see Policy Implications under Health Care, Childhood Adversity and Resilience, and Family Income and Poverty.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Richards, J., et al. (2017). Life course and social determinants: Professional resource brief. Maternal and Child Health Digital Library. Retrieved from: https://www.mchlibrary.org/professionals/lifecourse.php

2.  Halfon, N., et al. (2014). The changing nature of children's health development: New challenges require major policy solutions. Health Affairs, 33(12), 2116-2124. Retrieved from: https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2014.0944

3.  Arkin, E., et al. (Eds.). (2014). Time to act: Investing in the health of our children and communities. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. Retrieved from: https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2014/01/recommendations-from-the-rwjf-commission-to-build-a-healthier-am.html

4.  Rossin-Slater, M. (2015). Promoting health in early childhood. The Future of Children, 25(1), 35-64. Retrieved from: https://futureofchildren.princeton.edu/sites/futureofchildren/files/media/policies_to_promote_child_health_25_full_journal.pdf

5.  National Resource Center for Patient/Family-Centered Medical Home. (2020). Why is medical home important? American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from: https://medicalhomeinfo.aap.org/overview/Pages/Evidence.aspx

6.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Essentials for childhood: Creating safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/essentials.html

7.  Danielson, C., et al. (2021). California's future: Safety net. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: https://www.ppic.org/publication/californias-future-safety-net
Websites with Related Information
Key Reports and Research
County/Regional Reports
More Data Sources For Health Status