NYC Health Profiles, Community by Community

Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot (Photo via 2018 Community Health Profiles)

Health-wise, it’s still a tale of two cities in New York – but less so than three years ago.

The NYC Health Department on Jan. 11 published the 2018 Community Health Profiles for the city’s 59 community districts (CDs), the first such evaluation since 2015. In a press release summarizing the results, the Health Department said that there were improvements in “several high priority areas,” including declines in rates of uninsured New Yorkers, teen births, sugary drink consumption, smoking, new HIV diagnoses, and premature mortality. In recent years the city has worked with community organizations and promoted public health campaigns to address these issues.

Most of the findings in the 2018 Community Health profiles are based on data that runs through 2016 or 2017. The Health Department reported that:

Citywide, the percentage of uninsured adults dropped from a three-year average (2011-2013) of 20 percent to a two-year average (2015-2016) of 12 percent. Although a marked improvement, disparities in health insurance coverage remain among low-income and immigrant communities. The City continues its efforts to partner with community organizations to maximize neighborhood level outreach, and encourages enrollment through the GetCoveredNYC multimedia, multilingual health insurance enrollment campaigns to help eradicate these inequities. Smoking and sugary drink consumption, two priority areas, also decreased. Smoking among New Yorkers has decreased from a three-year average (2011-2013) of 15 percent to a two-year average (2015-2016) of 14 percent. Daily sugary drink consumption decreased from a three-year average (2011-2013) of 27 percent to a two-year average (2015-2016) of 23 percent.

Despite the good news on some key indicators, though, there continue to be wide discrepancies between the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, which tend to be the healthiest, and its poorest neighborhoods, whose residents fare relatively worse. In her introduction to the community profiles, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city’s recently appointed health commissioner, said that “not all residents have the same opportunities to lead a healthy life. A zip code should not determine a person’s health, but that’s the reality in so many cities, including our own.”

There’s an 11-year gap in life expectancy between the Upper East Side and Brownsville, based on 2015 life expectancy data, and the Health Department’s data show that “54 percent of deaths in Brownsville could have been averted if it had the same income as the wealthiest neighborhoods, based on five-year average mortality rate and poverty rate data (2011-2015).”

In the Bronx, three-quarters of the neighborhoods had a higher five-year average (2011-2015) rate of premature mortality and lower average life expectancy in 2015 compared with citywide averages.

The community profiles included a number of new indicators of social and neighborhood conditions, including on-time high school graduation, helpful neighbors, bicycle network coverage and food environment. New health outcomes measures, including childhood obesity and hypertension, have also been added.

As in 2015, the community profiles first offer useful demographic snapshots of each community – for instance, Queens CD3, which spans East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and North Corona, has a population that is 64 percent Latino and 18 percent Asian, and 60 percent of its population of nearly 180,000 is foreign-born and 47 percent are limited English-proficient. In this profile, as in the 58 others, there are numerous opportunities for comparing the data against city-wide and borough-wide data. Results are also benchmarked against the “best” CD in the city for a particular measure or health outcome.

Childhood obesity in Jackson Height’s CD, for instance, was higher than both the city-side and borough-wide averages, and well above the lowest rate, which was among children in the Financial District.

The 2018 Community Health Profiles may be accessed here.

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