Chronic Diseases More Prevalent in Low-Income Areas of Los Angeles, Study Finds
People living in the low-income neighborhoods of Los Angeles have a higher incidence of chronic disease and participate in more at-risk behaviors than do those in wealthy areas, according to a report released yesterday by the Los Angeles Department of Health Services, the Los Angeles Times reports. The report, based on surveys by the health department and other county and state organizations, illustrates "disturbing" disparities in health status and access to care, the Times reports. The southern area of Los Angeles, including the neighborhoods of South-Central, Lynwood and Compton, has the county's highest rate of births to teenage girls, as well as the lowest access to prenatal care, the report says. In addition, the southern region has the highest rates of breast and cervical cancers, diabetes, obesity, deaths from heart disease and uninsured adults and children. The metro area, including the areas of West Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles, has a tuberculosis rate twice that of wealthier areas such as the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys and an HIV/AIDS rate three times higher than the state's rate. In response to the survey's findings that will focus on increasing physical activity among children, the health department has assembled several community groups, expanding prenatal care and insurance coverage and decreasing "risky" sexual behavior, according to Belinda Towns, a county health officer in the southern area. Los Angeles City Council member Mark Ridley-Thomas said, "We need aggressive outreach. We need information in schools, libraries, religious institutions, anywhere people would turn. There should be billboards. We need a full-on assault against everything that diminishes and deteriorates the quality of health." Ridley-Thomas added that he is "committed" to increasing enrollment in Medi-Cal and Healthy Families (Galarza, Los Angeles Times, 3/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.