Substantial variation in average life expectancy is seen across Los Angeles County, partially determined by educational levels, income and employment, according to reports issued Wednesday by the county’s Department of Public Health.

The annual surveys were generated for cities and unincorporated communities with at least 24,000 residents, including 60 cities, the 15 council districts in the city of Los Angeles and nine unincorporated communities. Data reflected indicators of health, demographics, and social, economic and environmental conditions in each city and community.

“The reports highlight the power of place as a determinant of health and the many opportunities to improve the health of our residents, particularly in communities that have been disadvantaged by longstanding patterns of neglect, disinvestment, and discriminatory policies and practices,” DPH Director Barbara Ferrer said.

The research reveals large disparities in community conditions that impact health. For example, the percentage of the population living in close proximity to a supermarket or grocery story was greater than 80 percent in a dozen cities/communities, but was less than 40 percent in 11 areas. Access to nutritious and affordable foods is an important factor in protecting against obesity, diabetes, and a host of other chronic diseases, according to DPH.

The percentage of households experiencing severe housing burden — defined as spending more than half of their income on housing — was lower than 20 percent in 24 cities/communities, but was greater than 35 percent in four cities/communities. Housing burden can negatively impact health by causing chronic stress and limiting the amount of money people have available to spend on other life necessities, such as food or health care, DPH said.

Similar disparities were observed for many of the other indicators in the report, including measures of social support, community safety, environmental pollution, health behaviors such as smoking and physical activity, access to healthcare services, disease rates, mental health, and measures of maternal and child health, such as teen births, infant mortality, and low birthweight births.

“We hope cities and communities can use these reports, and supplement them with their own data and community voices, to create healthier environments and opportunities for all residents to achieve optimal health,” DPH Chief Science Officer Paul Simon said.

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