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Boston’s Health, By T Stop: Neighborhoods Near But ‘Health Worlds Apart’

BPHC data posted in Dr. Sandro Galea’s “Dean’s Note” on Boston health disparities.

BPHC data posted in Dr. Sandro Galea’s “Dean’s Note” on Boston health disparities.

If you went on a little T ride with Dr. Sandro Galea, the new dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, the urban landscape would never look quite the same to you, I bet. You wouldn’t just see neighborhoods, anymore; you would see health neighborhoods.

In his latest “Dean’s Note” post, Dr. Galea uses images like the one above to illustrate the yawning gaps in health statistics among Boston’s neighborhoods. (Get off at Dudley Square, the diabetes rate is 11 percent; get off at Arlington, it’s just 3 percent.) He also posts T-stop numbers on low birth weight, physical activity and homicide, among other health-related stats. And he writes:

Inured as we are to inequalities in health, we might well shrug off these health differences as ones between far-apart worlds. But are they? In fact, the geographic space we are talking about here is remarkably small. We are dealing with geographic differences of roughly four miles, or about an hour’s walk. In many respects, it is remarkable that areas so close to one another should have such dramatically different health indicators—“health worlds apart” that are simply down the street from one another.

Those health worlds may be far apart indeed. A new “Child Opportunity Index” suggests that Boston may be the worst city in the country for Hispanic kids in terms of healthy development.

Developed by researchers at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management and Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, the index finds that 58 percent of Hispanic children in Boston live in neighborhoods with the lowest level of access to “healthy development resources,” from parks to high-quality child care.

The index also found Boston to be the sixth-worst metro area in the country for African-American children.

From the press release, headlined, “Boston has the Highest Concentration Nationally of Hispanic Children Living in the Worst Neighborhoods for Healthy Development:” Continue reading