Where you live in Arizona, your zip code, may say more about your health than your DNA does. That comes from a new study just released by the Arizona Partnership for Healthy Communities titled, “The Arizona Healthy Communities Opportunities Index.”
ZIP codes may serve as reliable indicators in assessing the health of residents and just how long they might live.
“Your ZIP code is more important to your health than your genetic code,” according to a report by the Arizona Partnership for Healthy Communities.
That report found that transportation, safety and access to medical care impact the health of people in some metro Phoenix ZIP codes more than others.
According to AzFamily.com, “The report, the Arizona Healthy Communities Opportunity Index, first released in 2016, compared seven factors affecting health: proximity to highways and factories, housing, opportunities to exercise, public transit, access to health care, residential segregation and education.”
Cronkite News quoted Serena Unrein, director of Arizona Partnership for Healthy Communities as saying, ““Health is really dependent on your poverty level, on your access to education, on the walkability of your neighborhood. If you live in a lower income ZIP code, unfortunately your chances of living a long healthy life are not as good as if you live in a higher income ZIP code.”
Three years ago, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Virginia Commonwealth University released a life expectancy map for Phoenix that found life expectancy gaps as high as 14 years among ZIP codes.
With the index in mind, health organizations came together during a March conference to consider ways to improve the health of Arizonans.
Dr. Douglas Jutte, a San Francisco pediatrician who has worked with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said he always asks patients about their family history, but added, “Honestly, what I should be doing is asking what ZIP code were you born into and raised, and where do you live now. …That would be far, far more predictive.”
Share your thoughts on this new report and how you believe zip codes influence health outcomes in neighborhoods across our state. Generating conversations around the health issues affecting the people of our state is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!