How does where we live affect our opportunity to be healthy?
For the first time in our history, the United States is raising a generation of children who may live sicker and shorter lives than their parents. Reversing this trend will of course depend on healthy choices by each of us. But not everyone in America has the same opportunities to be healthy.
According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.6 years—76.1 years for men and 81.1 years for women. Adding to a 2017 analysis which found growing disparities in life expectancy across U.S. counties and ZIP codes, the National Center for Health Statistics has released first-of-its-kind neighborhood-level data on life expectancy at birth, which shows that life expectancy estimates vary greatly even at the census tract level, from block to block. Developed with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the data makes it possible to understand how much our health is influenced by conditions where we live.
Affordable, high-quality health care is essential to our health. But where we live can have an even greater impact. Improving health and longevity in communities starts with ensuring access to healthy food, good schools, affordable housing, and jobs that provide us the resources necessary to care for ourselves and our families—in essence, the types of conditions that can help keep us from getting sick in the first place.
In a Culture of Health, we all have the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible, regardless of where we live. Browse the resources below to learn more about what shapes our health, and how to take action to help create healthier places to live, learn, work and play.