Berkeley Exceeds State, U.S. Grades on Health Conditions
Only about 8% of Berkeley residents are uninsured, and the city has low rates of some diseases and unhealthful behaviors, according to a new public health report, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Berkeley residents' average life expectancy is 83, about four years longer than the state average and five years above the national average. Locally, Berkeley's average life expectancy is about three years longer than that for residents of San Francisco and about four years longer than other Alameda County residents' expected life spans.
In addition, only about 10% of Berkeley residents smoke, and about a quarter of residents are overweight or obese, a rate less than half the national average.
According to the Chronicle, the public health report's findings reflect an influx of upper-income, educated, white people to Berkeley. Such populations often have longer life expectancies because of better access to medical services and nutritious food, as well as more time for recreation.
By comparison, residents of West Berkeley, where many of the city's black residents live, have limited access to healthy food, and higher crime rates often impede outdoor recreation. In addition, the community's proximity to a major interstate raises residents' risk of developing asthma.
The report calls for the city government, schools, policymakers, not-for-profit organizations, child care providers and residents to collaborate on strategies to address health care disparities (Jones, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/23).