BOSTON. Here’s How Healthy Boston Is, Compared to 27 Other Cities (Boston Magazine)

A new data platform offers a window into public health nationwide.

By Jamie Ducharme

You already know Boston is a healthy city. But have you ever wondered how it stacks up against, say, New York or Las Vegas?

A new data platform from the Big Cities Health Coalition lets you see for yourself. The Big Cities Health Inventory Data Platform 2.0 has sorted 17,000 data points into an interactive platform that allows viewers to explore 50 public health indicators in 28 of the country’s largest cities.

So, does Boston hold its own? It depends where you look.

On the bright side, Boston has*:

  • The third-lowest adult obesity rate, at 21.7 percent of residents
  • One of the nation’s lowest heart disease mortality rates, at 133.6 deaths per 100,000 people
  • A very low HIV-related mortality rate, at 2.9 deaths per 100,000 residents
  • One of the country’s highest life expectancies, at 80.2 years
  • The third-lowest percentage (4.1 percent) of mothers under the age of 20

On the not-so-bright side, Boston has*:

  • The highest opioid overdose rate of any city
  • A shockingly low percentage (24.2 percent) of adult residents meeting physical activity guidelines, despite our vibrant fitness community
  • The third-highest percentage (25.4 percent) of adults who binge drink
  • A high rate of salmonella infections

The database touches on numerous other public health indicators, from environmental health to poverty rates. If your curiosity has been piqued, you can play with the platform here.

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BALTIMORE. Baltimore has some of the country's worst health outcomes, disparities (The Baltimore Sun)

By Meredith Cohn

Whether you're looking at chronic conditions, sexually transmitted diseases or other maladies, Baltimore has some of the worse health outcomes in the state and the nation.

City data shows 19 percent of Baltimore residents have asthma, while statewide it's 14 percent; 30 percent of children are obese, compared with 15 percent statewide; 30 percent of city kids have had at least two traumatic childhood experiences, versus 19 percent statewide.

About 12 percent of city babies have low birth weight, compared with the national average of 6 percent. A quarter of Baltimore residents smoke, while 17 percent of U.S. residents do.

Health officials consider race a driver of many of the disparities in Baltimore, which is 62 percent African-American, compared with 30 percent in Maryland and about 13 percent nationally.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that this is the case in many urban areas. A recent survey found more barriers to health care and greater risk of disease for residents who live in predominantly minority neighborhoods when compared to the rest of their counties or states. Poverty is a big factor, but middle-class African-Americans also suffer higher rates of disease.

A comparison of disease rates of Baltimore's black population and the nation as a whole by Johns Hopkins researchers in 2010 found stark disparities: Black infants in Baltimore died at more than twice the national rate, and so did black diabetics. Black Baltimore residents were diagnosed with HIV at a rate 71/2 times the national rate.

Baltimore City statistics also show that blacks are far more likely than white residents to be hospitalized for several chronic diseases and drug or alcohol use, have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases and report that their mental health is not good.

Data collected by the Big Cities Health Coalition from more than a dozen large metropolitan areas shows Baltimore in the bottom three for many health outcomes by race.

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