How Neighborhoods Impact Health

Where you live can affect your health, your access to health care, and even your life expectancy. This might be expected—when comparing an underdeveloped nation to the United States, for example—but shockingly, it also holds true for different neighborhoods, in the very same U.S. city. Residents of the Upper East Side in Manhattan can expect to live an average of 10 years longer than people who live in East Harlem.

In other areas of the country, the life expectancy gap is even bigger—as much as 15 years’ difference. There are a number of reasons for this sobering statistic, including, poverty, drug abuse, and major disparities in resources and infrastructure. As health care reform continues in the U.S., it’s important for health care systems and providers to move into the communities they serve to better support health and wellness.

One way to do this nationally is through the 100 Million Healthier Lives program, which brings together community-based organizations that provide services from mental health support to transportation assistance. Another way is to link hospitals and clinics to local neighborhoods. Rather than telling a patient to eat more fresh vegetables, doctors can send a list of dietary requirements directly to an area food bank.

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Sourced from: STAT, Neighborhoods influence health, for better and for worse