Locals are living longer despite boozing, obesity, lead poisoning

By Albert Amateau

New York City residents are living longer, deaths related to H.I.V. have dropped sharply in the past 10 years and fewer people use tobacco, but obesity has become a growing health problem.

Those are some of the conclusions from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Annual Summary of Vital Statistics for 2005, which also takes a closer look at neighborhoods in its community health profiles. The report was issued on Dec. 26, 2006.

Three community profiles — for the Village/Soho, the Lower East Side (including the East Village and Chinatown) and for Chelsea/Clinton — show some similarities and differences in health and health habits.

Binge drinking among adults 18 and older is more common in those three neighborhoods than in the city as a whole and than in Manhattan.

Indeed, in the zip codes 10012, 10013 and 10014, which include most of the Village and Soho, 23 percent of the people surveyed engaged in binge drinking in the month the survey took place, compared to 18 percent in Manhattan and 14 percent citywide.

In zip codes 10011, 10001, 10018, 10036 and 10019, covering Chelsea and Clinton, 27 percent of the people survey engaged in binge drinking. But in zip codes 10003, 10009 and 10002, covering the Lower East Side and the East Village, the survey shows that binge drinking was only slightly more common, 19 percent, than in the rest of Manhattan.

“Although over all we see great improvement in the health of New Yorkers, there are still major health differences between neighborhoods,” said Cari Olson, lead author of the report. The survey divided neighborhoods by zip codes rather than community board districts because residents were more likely to know their zip code, Olson said.

While H.I.V. has declined in every neighborhood citywide, it continues to afflict some neighborhoods severely. In the Highbridge-Morrisania section of the Bronx, the H.I.V. death rate, the highest in the city, is 10 times the rate of the affluent Riverdale section, Olson noted.

In the Chelsea/Clinton area, the H.I.V. death rate per 100,000 residents in 2004 was 27, which was 50 percent higher than Manhattan, 22, and the city as a whole, 18. The total number of H.I.V. diagnoses per 100,000 in Chelsea/Clinton was 149, compared to 69 in Manhattan and 55 citywide. The number of people living with H.I.V./AIDS in the area was 4,186 per 100,000 population, compared to 2,102 in Manhattan and 1,419 citywide.

In the Lower East Side area, the H.I.V. death rate per 100,000 population was 28, also 50 percent higher than the city as a whole, while total H.I.V. diagnoses, 41, was lower than Manhattan and citywide. People living with H.I.V./AIDS in the area were 1,740 per 100,000, fewer than Manhattan and more than citywide.

The H.I.V. death rate per 100,000 was much lower in the Village/Soho area, 8, than in Manhattan and citywide. The total number of H.I.V. diagnoses in the area was 59, lower than the Manhattan rate and slightly higher than the city rate. People living with H.I.V./AIDS per 100,000 was 2,295 in the Village/Soho area, more that Manhattan and less than citywide.

The community health profiles also include information on income and education.

In the Village/Soho, 62 percent of the respondents were college graduates, compared to 49 percent in Manhattan and 27 percent citywide. In Chelsea/Clinton, 61 percent were college graduates and on the Lower East Side, 40 percent.

In the Village/Soho, the percent of people living below the poverty level, 13, was lower than Manhattan, 20 percent, and citywide, 21 percent. Chelsea/Clinton was slightly poorer, with 14 percent below poverty level. The Lower East Side, with 23 percent below the poverty level, had more poor people than Manhattan or the city as a whole.

Smoking among adults 18 and older was lower in the Village/Soho, 12 percent, than in Manhattan, 17 percent, and 18 percent citywide. Chelsea/Clinton has identical smoker statistics, while the Lower East Side has more smokers, 21 percent, than Manhattan or the city as a whole.

Ten percent of Village/Soho respondents 18 and older were found to be obese (with a body-mass index of 30 or higher) compared to 15 percent in Manhattan and 20 percent citywide. In Chelsea/Clinton and the Lower East Side, 12 percent were identified as obese.

Lead poisoning among children up to the age of 10 has declined dramatically over the past 10 years but remains a serious problem in the Village/Soho area, where 50 children were newly identified with lead poisoning in 2004, for a rate of 35 per 1,000 children, higher than the Manhattan rate of 11 and the citywide rate of 10 children per 1,000. On the Lower East Side, the lead poisoning rate in 2004 was 17 per 1,000 children and in Chelsea/Clinton, the rate was 19 per 1,000 children.

But Village/Soho residents 18 and older were less likely to experience serious psychological distress: 2 percent compared to 4 percent for Manhattan and 6 percent for the city as a whole. Five percent of Chelsea/Clinton residents were identified with serious distress and 6 percent of Lower East Side residents showed serious distress.

More information is available at the www.nyc.gov Web site link to the Department of Health and the Annual Summary of Vital Statistics, where a zip code entry will bring up an appropriate community health profile.