Public Health Releases New City and Community Health Profiles
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) released the most geographically focused reports to date on the health of county residents and the community conditions impacting their health across the county. Reports 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 9 unincorporated communities. Data were reported for 58 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,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, Med, Director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The reports reveal large disparities in community conditions that impact health. For example, 12 cities/communities had less than half an acre per 1,000 residents of available recreational space, while 10 cities/communities had more than ten times that amount (more than 5 acres per 1,000 residents). Recreational space is a vital resource for promoting physical activity.
The percentage of the population living in close proximity to a supermarket or grocery story was greater than 80% in 12 cities/communities, but was less than 40% in 11 cities/communities. Access to nutritious and affordable foods is an important factor in protecting against obesity, diabetes, and a host of other chronic diseases.
The percentage of children ages 3 and 4 years who were enrolled in preschool was greater than 80% in 5 cities/communities, but was lower than 40% in 9 cities/communities. Access to early childhood education is associated with numerous health benefits later in life.
The percentage of households experiencing severe housing burden, defined as spending more than half of their income on housing, was lower than 20% in 24 cities/communities, but was greater than 35% in 4 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.
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,” said Paul Simon, MD, MPH, Chief Science Officer for Public Health.
“At the Social Justice Learning Institute, we work to improve the health and well-being of communities throughout Los Angeles County, including the neighborhoods of Inglewood, Hawthorne, Lennox, Compton and South Los Angeles. The County’s Cities and Communities Health Profiles report provides insight on disparities in education, income, housing and access to care and recognizes the challenges our communities face. By better understanding countywide health needs, we are more equipped to work within our community to identify solutions that advance academic, health, environmental and housing justice,” said D’Artagnan Scorza, PhD, Executive Director, Social Justice Learning Institute.
“The Los Nietos School District looks forward to sharing the valuable information found in the Cities and Communities Health Profile document with our students, parents, staff, and members of our senior community organization group More Advocates for Safe Homes,” said Jonathan Vasquez, Superintendent of the Los Nietos School District.
To view the reports, visit the Public Health website at www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of over 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health comprises nearly 4,100 employees and has an annual budget of $1 billion. To learn more about Los Angeles County Public Health, please visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov, and follow LA County Public Health on social media at twitter.com/lapublichealth, facebook.com/lapublichealth and youtube.com/lapublichealth.