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Report shows vast differences in life expectancy in various Denver neighborhoods

Posted at 1:25 PM, Nov 23, 2016

DENVER -- In Denver, just a couple of miles could mean a decade of difference in average life expectancy.

In a new analysis, data from the state health department was compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to understand why residents in some neighborhoods have shorter life spans.

The data shows up to an 11-year difference in average life expectancy at birth on opposite sides of downtown.

Those living in the City Park West neighborhood have a life expectancy of 70 at birth, while those in more affluent neighborhoods, such as Washington Park, have a life expectancy at birth of 84 years.

"I think the underlying factor that correlates is poverty," said Dr. Bill Burman, the Interim CEO of Denver Health. "And so you have to ask yourself, 'What is it about poverty, what factors would produce these different results of life expectancy at birth?'" 

The following table contains the life expectancy values for all the Denver County area neighborhoods.

The study notes some of the factors that affect life expectancy include education, income and the ability of residents to walk or exercise in a safe area. Other factors include unsafe housing, unhealthy food options in a certain neighborhood or proximity to sources of toxic agents, like highways and factories.

"We need a city in which it is easier to be healthier," said Burman, who said Denver has already started a task force to put grocery stores in food deserts.

Denver Health is also launching a new Center for Health Equity to address the issue through research, education and community involvement.

The study aggregated Census data from 2000 and 2010. Death count data were obtained from the Vital Statistics Program, Center for Health and Environmental Data, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

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