Skip to content

Public Health survey suggests environment can impact wellbeing


Cite disinvestment in Black, Brown communities

Disproportionate inequities in health, access to care, housing, and economic security among Los Angeles County communities impacts health outcomes for residents depending largely on where they live, according to a new report released from the L.A. County Department of Public Health (DPH).

The data collected in DPH's Community Health Profiles provides information on over 100 indicators affecting health and well-being for 179 communities within L.A. County. The profiles emphasize the role local environments play in influencing health outcomes. The data is intended to fuel improvements in community conditions and resident health.

“Where you live has a huge impact on your access to healthy environments and health-affirming resources,'' Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief deputy director of DPH, said at a press conference on April 24. “This is often due to long-standing patterns of disinvestments and discriminatory and racist policies and practices that have disproportionately impacted Black and Brown communities.''

DPH said the interactive index is the most geographically expansive to date. It covers the majority of the county, including incorporated and unincorporated areas, supervisorial districts, and Los Angeles City neighborhoods and council districts with populations over 20,000 residents.

The report is categorized into 11 areas, including demographics, social determinants of health, physical activity and nutrition, housing and health.

The survey shows substantial geographic inequities throughout the county. For example, in eight communities, life expectancy is less than 75 years. Yet, in five communities, it is greater or equal to 85 years.

As for such chronic health conditions as obesity, in 11 communities fewer than 15% of adults are obese, whereas in 26 communities, more than 40% of adults are dangerously overweight–more than double the amount elsewhere.

A look at the region's recreational space shows that 17 communities boast more than 30 acres of healthy space per 1,000 residents. But for 15 communities, less than a quarter of an acre of recreational space is available per 1,000 residents, the report found.

Further, nutritional disparity is evident in a comparison of 10 communities where less than 30% percent of the population lives near a supermarket or grocery store, and 19 communities where more than 90% of residents live near such stores.

The profiles offer an even closer look at access to nutrition. For example, in Athens/Westmont, the report finds 44% of adults live in households that are food insecure–meaning unable to reliably afford or access enough food. Those residents have worse access to fresh fruits and vegetables, compared with L.A. County overall. 

Tags: local, Public Health, Barbara Ferrer, Athens/Westmont