Report: NYC health varies widely across boroughs

Brooklyn and the Bronx are in the bottom 10 least-healthy counties in entire state.

How healthy New Yorkers are can vary widely, depending on where in the sprawling metropolis they live.

Health data released last week from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation revealed a large disparity among the health of the different boroughs.

For example, Manhattan is ranked as 19 out of New York’s 62 counties for overall health outcomes — but the Bronx comes in dead last at 62. And Brooklyn also ranked in the bottom 10 least-healthy counties in the state, at 54 out of 62 counties. In Brooklyn, 21 percent of adults reported poor physical health, compared to 16 percent statewide.

Out of the five New York boroughs, Queens ranked the highest — 16 of 62 — and Staten Island ranked 22.

In the Bronx, 25 percent of people had poor or fair health, compared to 17 percent in Manhattan.
Kate Konkle at the University of Wisconsin said many different factors affect health, from individual decisions to smoke to not having access to high-quality health care and healthy food.
“Where we live matters to our health — and when you look at these health factors, the Bronx is not doing as well as New York County in many of those areas,” Konkle said.
Some of this, she explained, can be attributed to socioeconomic factors: Unemployment in the Bronx is 12.8 percent, versus 8.6 percent in New York state. And 42 percent of children under the age of 18 there live in poverty, compared to 22 percent across the state.
Konkle added, “There is also a high percentage of fast-food restaurants, higher rates of obesity and less physical activity.”

High number of STDs in the Bronx

Also contributing to its poor health ranking, the Bronx has more than twice as many sexually transmitted infections than the average New York county — 1,234 chlamydia cases per 100,000 people versus 472 cases for the statewide average. The national benchmark is 84 chlamydia cases per 100,000 people, according to the report.

Dirk McCall, at Manhattan’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis, said poverty often goes hand in hand with increased drug and alcohol use, which can lead to risky behavior and sexual infections. “When you’re stressed out and you’re having a rougher time, increased rates of poverty oftentimes correlate.”

Manhattan malaise

Not everything is better in Manhattan: More than 20 percent of adults on the island reported excessively drinking — higher than the New York state average of 17 percent — and nearly three times as much as the national benchmark of 8 percent, the report found. And Manhattanites are exposed to twice as many heavy air pollution days — eight, compared to four in the rest of the state. The national standard is zero days.


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