Life expectancy differs by 12 years, depending on your neighborhood

How long will you live? Neighborhood may be factor
Published: Jun. 16, 2016 at 5:35 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2016 at 9:24 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Travel less than ten miles from Cleveland area neighborhoods like Glenville and St. Clair-Superior, to eastern outer-ring suburbs, and the life expectancy can differ by as much as 12 years.

"It goes well beyond genetics and it goes well beyond what we typically understood as simply access to health care," said Martha Halko, Deputy Director at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

A new life expectancy map for the Greater Cleveland area, from the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health, factors in education and job opportunities, safe and affordable housing, availability of nutritious food and places to exercise, clean air, access to health care, child care and social services.

"The kids, they go into stores in the morning and they eat honey buns and juices. We need to create things that are more healthy," said Nelson Johnson Jr, of Green City Growers.

Halko says they're working on things like making opportunity for physical activity easier.

"Perhaps a church or a school that provides opportunities normally during the day for youth…we could open up those facilities in partnership with communities members so that other community residents can engage in physical activity," she said.

And they're promoting Produce Prescriptions, offering doctor-issued vouchers for fresh fruits and veggies. It's already leading to more produce consumption.

"I walk and I eat good food…go out to the farm and get it," said Eldridge Milan, a newcomer to North Union Farmers Market at University Hospital.

"With a little bit of planning and a little bit of knowledge you can eat better, eat healthier, live longer," said Tim Campbell of Red Wagon Farm.

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