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Survival Of The Fittest: A Study Shows That New Yorkers Live Longer

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Sean Levinson

The New York Times reports that since 1985, the life expectancy for Manhattan residents has increased more than it has for citizens of any other U.S. county.

Researchers attributed this finding to an increase in the availability of healthier lifestyles for people in low to middle income brackets.

Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens were also among the 12 counties where life expectancy saw the biggest rise over the same period of time.

After almost 25 years, the average Manhattan resident’s lifespan rose almost 13 years for men and over eight years for women, the Times reports.

“Our researchers think it’s more than economics,” said William Heisel, communications director at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The institute conducted the study based on census data and health statistics.

“When we have looked at changes in income to see how they line up to changes in life expectancy, sometimes the trend corresponds and sometimes it does not,” he said.

“In Manhattan’s case, we think that the drive to implement smoking bans, trans fat bans, and to make the city more amenable to physical activity and healthy food choices has had and will have an impact. The early and aggressive interventions into the AIDS epidemic are part of the story, too.”

“Manhattan stands out,” said Dr. Christopher J. L. Murray, the institute’s director.

Brooklyn ranked third, with an increase in life expectancy of six years for women and almost ten for men. The Bronx ranked fourth, with a six-year-increase for women and nearly ten for men.

Queens came in at number eleven, showing six-year-increases for women and nine for men.

The U.S. county with the highest life expectancy for women is Marin, California, at 85. Manhattan was fifteenth at 64, followed by Bergen County, New Jersey and Westchester, New York.

Another factor that cannot be overlooked when considering Manhattan’s increase in life expectancy is the recent influx of wealthier white residents. And according to the National Center for Health Statistics, whites are likely to live four years longer than are blacks. This gap, however, is lower than it has ever been.

“New Yorkers today are living longer and healthier than ever before, and substantially longer than people in the rest of the country, in part because of public health initiatives to combat H.I.V. infection, heart disease, cancer, smoking, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity” said Dr. Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner.

“We intend to continue these public health efforts, with a particular focus on the city’s twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes.”

Andrew Moesel, spokesman for the New York Restaurant Association, applauded the increase of healthier options in Manhattan.

“It’s reflective of the healthy food choices available in New York,” said the spokesman, Andrew Moesel. “It shows both the attitude of New Yorkers toward healthy living and the multitude of options. If you want to only drink papaya juice you have five places that serve different varieties.”

“We have always applauded Mayor Bloomberg’s intentions to make New York a healthier place,” he said. “Sometimes we disagree about the best method.”

Via NY Times

Sean Levinson

Sean Levinson

Staff Writer

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