Kevin Fitzpatrick of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville says place matters when it comes to health.
"When trying to understand a person's health and well-being, we believe that their zip code may be just as important a number to their physical health as their blood pressure or glucose level," Fitzpatrick says in a statement.
Fitzpatrick and Mark LaGory of the University of Alabama at Birmingham have authored, "In Unhealthy Cities: Poverty, Race, and Place in America," about high-poverty urban neighborhoods and the health of Americans.
"Where we live in the metropolis is a function of the interrelationship between race and class, with residential location accentuating just how disparate some groups are," the researchers say in a statement.
More than 9 million U.S. adults and children live in more than 3,000 high-poverty neighborhoods, with poor African-Americans disproportionately isolated in high-risk neighborhoods, the researchers say.
For example, there have been numerous studies on how a concentration of fast-food restaurants in poor, predominantly minority neighborhoods impacts the health of the residents, while other studies show many of these poor neighborhoods may not have a single grocery store offering fresh, nutritious food or safe places to exercise.
"Some parts of the city seemed to be designed to make people sick," the authors say.