Healthify Blog

The Impact of Geography on the Impoverished

While the rich are living longer regardless of where they live, the same can't be said for the poor, according to a new study the NYT reported on earlier this month.
Though the poor in cities like New York and Los Angeles live nearly as long as their middle-class neighbors or are living longer, the poor in cities like Indianapolis and Detroit are dying as young as people in much poorer nations and living shorter lives, the newspaper reported, citing a study published this month in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Life expectancy for the poor is lowest in a large swath that cuts through the middle of the country, and it appears in pockets in the rest of the country, in places like Nevada, the NYT reported.
The question that emerges from these findings is: What are the cities with the smallest longevity gaps doing that cities with the biggest gaps aren't?
NYT waded into the beginning of an answer by noting that New York City, where poor people are living the longest, is a wealthy city that "has a high rate of social spending for low-income residents and has been aggressive in regulating trans fats and smoking."
When it comes to improving the health of the poor, the notion that we should focus more on local public health policies rather than addressing widening income inequality is interesting.
The study showed that smoking rates and obesity have much greater impacts on longevity than the unemployment rate and income inequality, and that poor people lived longer in areas with many college graduates and high government spending, NYT reported. 
Based on that, one could argue that well-funded social programs that specifically help the poor eat better, avoid smoking and get an education would make the biggest difference in lengthening their lives.
Healthify's hope is that by providing technology that efficiently connects vulnerable populations to such programs, they'll achieve those health outcomes. 
No matter where people live, Healthify believes that access to programs that aid them in leading healthier lifestyles should be as unfettered as possible.
Topics: social determinants of health health disparities public health