Los Angeles is a city with many health inequities, and where a person lives often determines their health destiny. Residents in low-income communities such as Boyle Heights and South Los Angeles are more likely to be obese, suffer from respiratory health issues, and live in communities with high pollution, and have less access to resources such as safe park spaces or grocery stores. Geographic location is such an important indicator of health that a person who lives in Watts can expect to live 12 years less than a person who lives in Brentwood.
Health is often attributed to individual choices: eating fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding unhealthy choices such as smoking, and doing regular exercise, and getting the proper medical care. For many people, particularly those with limited financial resources, a healthy lifestyle is not a matter of choice, but rather an issue of access and opportunity. There is an increased awareness that where people live, and the opportunities they can access, influences their health.
As part of a new public health initiative, the Department of City Planning issued a Health Atlas that examines over 100 health issues in Los Angeles. The report found that communities like South Los Angeles have less than an acre of park space per 1,000 residents, limiting their opportunities to participate in physical activity in safe public spaces. Less than 10 percent of adults in South Los Angeles eat the recommended daily serving of five fruits and vegetables, compared to more than 22 percent of residents in West Los Angeles, pointing to the need to increase healthy options in the city's most underserved neighborhoods. The economic hardship and lack of workforce and educational resources that is prevalent in some of the city's poorest communities is associated with worse health outcomes, which has prompted the City of Los Angeles to look at how it can help create communities where the healthy choice is the easy choice.
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