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Health: It's all about location, location

Nov. 27, 2010 at 2:06 AM   |   Comments

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Nov. 27 (UPI) -- A U.S. sociologist says where people live affects their health and how long they live.

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.

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