Life Expectancy in Los Angeles County has Reached an All Time High
Department of Public Health: Life Expectancy in Los Angeles County
Life expectancy has increased in the Los Angeles County to an average of age 80, but the statistics released today don’t warrant complete celebration.A report by the Department of Public Health (DPH) titled“Life Expectancy in Los Angeles County: How long do we live and why?” (PDF); suggests there are major discrepancies of life expectancy between people groups both racially and geographically.
The report found that Asian/Pacific Islanders have an average life span of 84.8 years while African Americans live to about 73. There is also an average 5.3-year gap between men and women, with women outliving men.
The gap also exists geographically according to the level of economic hardship associated with a certain area. Beverly Hills, for example, has a life expectancy of 85.6 while Compton is closer to 75. La Canada Flintridge experiences the highest average with life expectancy ranging about 87.8.
The report recognizes the social and economic impacts on these larger populations. Poorer neighborhoods, with less education, “may have limited access to health care, less opportunity to participate in health-promoting activities, and fewer resources to fall back on when crises occur.”
The report also suggests poorer neighborhoods have fewer grocery stores offering fresh, nutritious food, and less opportunities for outdoor recreational areas and safe places for children and families to play, which may have contributed to the overall low life expectancy.
The Department also made suggestions regarding the racial divide. The number one cause of premature death for whites and Asian/Pacific Islanders is Coronary Heart Disease, while the leading cause of premature death for Hispanics and African Americans is homicide.
“To identify continuing wide gaps between wealthy and less wealthy communities and between different ethnic groups is sobering and disconcerting,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. “Why should an unincorporated community in South LA (Westmont) have an average life expectancy that is 10 years lower than a city (Culver City) only 10 miles away? It’s important to examine these disparities and seek answers as to how to reduce these unacceptable differences.”
To help increase the life expectancy in all areas across the County, DPH suggests simple life style changes from creating smoke-free environments, reducing the use of alcohol and drugs, reducing the spread of HIV, promoting regular medical care, and eating healthfully.
But nonetheless Los Angeles County is heading in the right direction. Life expectancy was around age 75 in 1991, and it seems as if the upward trend continuing.
“Average life expectancy is one of the most fundamental measures of the health of a population and community. We are pleased to see that there have been substantial gains over the past couple of decades,” said Dr. Fielding.