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Queens Chronicle

NYC life expectancy hits all-time high

Bloomberg credits less obesity and smoking, early HIV detection

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Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 11:41 am, Thu Dec 20, 2012.

New Yorkers born today will live about three years longer than those born in 2001, Mayor Bloomberg said on Tuesday.

The life expectancy for Gotham-born individuals rose from 77.9 to 80.9, according to the most recent data from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, collected between 2001 and 2010. These averages out- pace the national numbers, which grew only 1.8 years from 76.9 to 78.7.

Life expectancy improved by 3.1 years from 76.5 to 79.6 in Queens from 2001 to 2009, according to data collected by the University of Washington. The data says Queens has the highest life expectancy out of all five boroughs.

“If you really care about someone then you should tell them they should come live in New York City — it’s not a joke,” Bloomberg said, speaking at Health Department headquarters in Long Island City.

Broken down by categories, women have a life expectancy of 83.3, about five years more than men, who if born in 2010 are estimated to live until they are 78 years old.

Hispanics are expected to live until they are nearly 82; non-Hispanic whites until they are 81.4; and African-Americans until they are 77.2.

Life expectancy for African-Americans in New York City grew the most with an increase of 3.8 years between 2001 and 2010.

“This also shows we have some work to do,” Bloomberg said, noting the more than four-year discrepancy between black and white New Yorkers.

The city’s infant mortality rate also improved by falling to an all time low of 4.7 deaths for every 1,000 births in 2011, Bloomberg said. These numbers show a 23 percent decrease since 2001. Nationally the rate fell 12 percent.

The mayor also said the news is good for those 40 and above who nationally are living 2.5 years more since 2001.

“Elderly people behave differently than they did 20 years ago,” said Bloomberg, adding that Social Security and Medicare are not prepared for this longer living population.

The mayor credited all these improvements to quicker detection of HIV and an assault on obesity and smoking.

The mayor’s not-yet in effect policy to ban 20-ounce sugary drinks in graded establishments and policy on smoking in parks were met by opposition. However, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the policies “reduced consumption.”

Bloomberg put an emphasis on changing habits early on in life. During his administration he has allowed only diet drinks in school vending machines and advocated for less fattening food.

Children in public schools are also weighed and measured every year. When they fall into the obesity threshold, they are sent home with information on how to combat it. Between 2007 and 2011, obesity dropped by 5.5 percent, Bloomberg said.

His administration also cut the number of high school students who smoke in half.

“The good news is that if they don’t smoke as a teenager they are less likely to smoke as an adult,” he said.

Other nonhealth related factors the mayor cited are decreasing murders, fewer traffic deaths and improved building codes.

And as for the secret to our 70-year-old mayor’s own health — besides good old-fashioned exercise and healthy living?

“If you ever stop working or slow down you die,” he said — although he added that it doesn’t have to be for money and could be volunteering or raising children, anything that engages the mind.

Also “people who complain die early.”

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