How long do you think you’ll live? You can get a pretty good idea from your lifestyle — eating right, not smoking, exercising. But what if you were told you could tell by your zip code?
That’s the premise of the article “Your ZIP Code Might Determine How Long You Live—and the Difference Could Be Decades” by Jamie Ducharme and Elijah Wolfson (https://time.com/5608268/zip-code-health/?). The article is based on research from the New York University School of Medicine which analyzed data from NYU Langone Health’s City Health Dashboard. The data show that 56 of the U.S.’ 500 largest cities contain people who can expect to live at least 20 fewer years than those in other neighborhoods, even if they’re just blocks away. The greatest disparity is in Chicago, where life expectancy varies by up to 30.1 years.
How can this be? Where you live can impact your health in many ways. The most obvious are exposure to air pollution, the availability of healthy food, the number of parks and other green spaces, and the accessibility to medical care.
But more subtle factors are at work, too. The study found that cities with the widest gaps in life expectancy were the most segregated by race and ethnicity, which result in obstacles like poverty, substandard housing, unemployment and subpar social services.
The challenge today is to understand the links between zip code and health so everyone can reasonably expect the same long life.