Residents turn gloomy, survey finds

Burbank and Glendale residents have a gloomier outlook on life as stress and other factors take their toll, according to an annual report that ranks congressional districts based on the welfare of their populations.

In the annual report issued jointly by Gallup and Healthways, California congressional districts 27 and 29, which include most of Burbank and Glendale, rank 128 and 129, respectively, out of 436 districts in the nation for overall well-being.

At least 1,000 adults are interviewed each day to provide real-time data on the health of Americans, with participants answering questions about physical and emotional health, behavior, work environment and basic access to things like fresh produce.

“A person’s health is more than the physical expression,” said Healthways Chief Executive Ben Leedle. “It’s about how they experience their day, is it going to be better, worse or about the same tomorrow, and if they have the resources available to make healthy choices.”

Within the last year, residents of both districts reported that the quality of their work environments and emotional health have steadily declined.

National trends indicate similar declines, but worry, anger and sadness are worse in Burbank and Glendale than the national average, said Leedle.

“Compared to the national average, many of the residents report depression or experiencing worry every day,” Leedle said. “They say they have heavy emotional loads they are experiencing every day.”

Residents in Congressional District 27, which includes part of Burbank, reported stress levels comparable to Baltimore, at 41.1%, while District 29, which includes the rest of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena, had close to the same levels, at 39.9%.

And the heavier moods appear to be impacting household children.

“I am finding that more kids are feeling the effects of stress in the home as measured by the increase in health referrals we are receiving from parents and schools for behavioral issues,” said Camille Levee, executive director of Glendale Healthy Kids, a nonprofit that coordinated free healthcare for low income clients. “And while parents may have insurance for their kids, more and more can't afford the deductibles and co-pays, so health issues are left untreated.”

Anger in Congressional District 29 was comparable to residents in Pittsburg, at 14.1%, a significant finding, according to Healthways, since FBI crime statistics for the first six months 2010 show 1,410 violent crimes in the Pennsylvania city, compared to just 128 in Glendale.

Respondents in both districts reported improvements in the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, but their access to insurance coverage and safe neighborhoods lag behind the national average, Leedle said.

“Basic access results, such as health insurance, are what is preventing both districts from ranking among the top in the nation,” he said.

In a recent survey in Burbank, 96% of residents reported that they are generally satisfied with the city, including public safety, even after an FBI probe into the Burbank Police Department for alleged use-of-force violations became public, according to the report.

And despite the souring mood among residents, the relatively high overall rankings for both cities should be source of hope that things are positioned to improve economically, Leedle said.

“Communities whose citizens have higher well-being are where job growth is going to occur,” he said. “Cities should be focused on driving higher well-being to have businesses start or locate to their community.”

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