Study shows life expectancy varies drastically across RVA

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new and interesting life expectancy map released Wednesday shows that opportunities to lead a long and healthy life can vary dramatically in Richmond based on where you live.

VCU researchers created the map using census data from the Virginia Department of Health.

The map shows that babies born within five miles of downtown Richmond face up to a 20-year difference in life expectancy. For example, life expectancy differs by 20 years in the 5.5 miles it takes to drive between Westover Hills and Gilpin and by 14 years in the 2.8 miles that separate Westover Hills and Swansboro.

The study suggests that this life expectancy gap is rarely due to a single cause, but rather several factors, including:

-opportunities for education and jobs
-safe and affordable housing
-availability of nutritious food and places for physical activity
-clean air
-and access to health care
-child care and social services.

“The health differences shown in these maps aren’t unique to one area. We see them in big cities, small towns and rural areas across America,” said Derek Chapman, Ph.D., associate director for research, VCU Center on Society and Health.  “Our goal is to help local officials, residents and others understand that there’s more to health than health care and that improving health requires having a broad range of players at the table.”

LE-Map-Richmond

The aim of the study is to raise public awareness of the many different factors that can shape health and to serve as a conversation starter for improving the health of the community.

“To build a culture of health we must build a society where everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, has the opportunity to lead a fulfilling, productive and healthy life,” said RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D.  “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each community must chart its own course and everyone has a role to play for better health in their homes, in their neighborhoods, in their schools and in their towns.”

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