In NYC, New Health Data Zoom In on Disparities Among Areas


In Brooklyn’s impoverished Brownsville neighborhood, the average person can expect to live to 74, just over three out of 10 adults are obese, and eight of every 1,000 newborns don’t make it to their first birthday.

Things are different in the borough’s upscale Park Slope and Carroll Gardens neighborhoods: Life expectancy tops 80, just over one out of 10 adults is obese, and about two of every 1,000 infants die.

These snapshots capture the disparate state of health in the nation’s biggest city, as measured by new community health profiles officials plan to start releasing Wednesday. They zoom in on a city that can boast overall life expectancy above the national average, but where it can vary by more than 11 years between one community and another (it tops 85 among residents of lower Manhattan’s financial district).

“We know, in aggregate, that New York City is getting healthier and healthier,” city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said. “But these 59 community health profiles let us know that there’s a huge amount of variability in the health of neighborhoods.”

In addition to comparing such things as hospitalization rates for strokes and asthma, the new reports include broader measures of community well-being — such as housing quality, incarceration rates, school absenteeism and even the square footage devoted to supermarkets.

That’s because health officials wanted to underscore that “there are features of neighborhoods that have a bearing on the health of their residents,” Bassett said.