The word health has many meanings to different people. At United Way, we believe a comprehensive approach to health is needed to help people begin and sustain healthy lives. The World Health Organization defines health as: “The state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmary.”

A healthy community is one that supports individual health, safety and development; one where individuals can live free of violence and abuse; one where opportunities for physical activity and a nutritious diet are accessible to all; one where people of all ages have health care services for preventative, mental health and dental care to support overall well-being.

The Maine Facts

  • Cumberland County is ranked the healthiest county in Maine based on the many health factors (including health behaviors, clinical care social and economic factors and physical environment) that can make communities healthier places to live, work and grow up. (source: There is still a great deal of room for improvement for the health of residents of Greater Portland.
  • In Cumberland County in 2009, 35% of high school students reported having at least one drink of alcohol on one or more of the past 30 days and 21.3% reported having 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row on one or more of the past 30 days. (MIYHS 2009)
  • In 2009, a significantly higher percentage of Maine high school students, compared to their U.S. peers, reported being bullied on school property; hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend/girlfriend; and physically forced to have sexual intercourse
  • Dental decay affects some of the most basic activities in life, is linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and premature births and is preventable. In 2002, data from the national Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, indicated that 4.8% of Maine adults ages 25-34 and 11.8% of those ages 35-44 had lost 6 or more teeth because of tooth decay or gum disease. In 2004 nearly half of the population age 65 and older reported having lost 6 or more teeth. Data from a 2004 statewide survey of kindergarten and third-grade students indicated that about a quarter of the children who were screened had treated or untreated tooth decay. In the same survey, parents of 20.4% of third graders reported that their children had untreated tooth decay.
  • The 2009 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey shows that 21.2% of Cumberland County high school students 26.2% of 5th and 6th grade students are obese or overweight.

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