Thanks to public health initiatives and creative urban alternatives, New York City’s life expectancy has increased more than anywhere else in the United States. The death rate is lower than ever before thanks to initiatives to get New Yorkers physically active, limit public smoking, and improve the prevention and treatment of diseases such as HIV, heart disease, cancer and drug addiction.
Whether aware of it or not, most New Yorkers lead fairly active lives. They walk to and from the subway, maneuver amidst the hustle and bustle of busy streets, and bike more than ever before. According to the NYC Department of Transportation, biking increased by over 45 percent between 2006-2009.
Aside from City initiatives to get New Yorkers active on a daily basis, Mayor Bloomberg has also spearheaded public health campaigns that target smoking, obesity and the consumption of salt. Bloomberg’s ability to translate cancer research into effective policy has also played a huge role. Health Commissioner Farley stated, “Since 2002, nearly half a million New Yorkers have quit smoking and dramatically reduced their risk of heart disease and cancer that result from smoking.” Programs have been created that offer free nicotine patches, require restaurants to include caloric information and make cancer screenings more readily available.
However, the biggest factor contributing to the hopeful figures can be attributed to increased HIV testing and treatment. During much of the 20th century, New Yorkers life expectancy was lower than many other parts of the US. The difference was particularly drastic during the 1990s when AIDS took a strong toll on the city. Thanks to improvements in healthcare and prevention campaigns, the mortality rate from HIV infection fell by 51.9 percent between 2002 and 2010.
All of these factors combined have produced surprising results with rates that improved faster than any other major US city. In New York City, life expectancy at birth is up to 80.6 years, about two and a half years more than the national rate of 78.2. New York elders have reason to celebrate as well– life expectancy for a 70 year old is 86.9, compared to 85.1 nationwide.
“If you want to live longer and healthier than the average American, then come to New York City,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By investing in health care and continuing to encourage more New Yorkers to take charge of their own health, we’ve experienced dramatic improvements in life expectancy. This news really does make it a happy, healthy New Year.”
Images © Amanda Silvana Coen