New online resource gives hundreds of U.S. cities access to key neighborhood-level health data to create thriving communities

May 15, 2018

The City Health Dashboard—an online resource with community-level health, social, and economic data for the nation’s 500 largest cities—was launched by the Department of Population Health at NYU School of Medicine with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and in partnership with NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, the National Resource Network, ICMA, and the National League of Cities. This online resource enables local leaders to identify and take action around the most pressing health needs in their cities and communities.

The Dashboard reports on 36 key measures of health, such as obesity and opioid overdose deaths, as well as the conditions that influence health such as housing affordability, third grade reading proficiency, and income inequality. It represents a first-of-its-kind effort to provide city- and neighborhood-level data from multiple national sources—creating a one-stop online resource to help city leaders and residents pinpoint and take action on gaps in health and opportunity. The City Health Dashboard gives users the ability to view many of its measures according to race and gender. The Dashboard also allows users to compare their city to others and provides resources for best practices and policies, creating an opportunity to explore how to address specific challenges.

The City Health Dashboard data offer a revealing look at how health outcomes and opportunities for health vary widely depending on where you live. For example, City Health Dashboard researchers found that chronic absenteeism—missing 15 days or more of the school year—is higher for the 500 cities included in the Dashboard than for the U.S. as a whole. The Dashboard’s data also show that students of color have a higher rate of chronic absenteeism overall. Black and Hispanic students are 29% and 16%, respectively, more likely to be chronically absent from school than their white peers living in the same city. Regionally, the West has the lowest rate of absences, while the Northeast has the highest rate. This is a critical national problem that puts millions of children at risk for falling behind academically and dropping out of school, which can lead to serious long-term health, employment and financial consequences.

Other findings from the City Health Dashboard include:

  • Health behaviors and conditions vary widely between cities. For instance, the prevalence of smoking ranges from less than 12% among adults in the 50 cities with the lowest rates, to 25% or more in the cities with the highest rates. In the 50 cities with the lowest diabetes rates, less than 7% of adults have diabetes, while in the 50 cities with the highest rates, 14% or more of adults have the condition.
  • Economic opportunities for children vary greatly between cities: Poverty and other economic stressors pose risks to the health of communities, and substantial variation exists between cities. For instance, while only 3% of children live in poverty in the wealthiest cities, greater than 60% of children are below poverty in the most deprived cities.
  • Cities in the West consistently have better health: On average, cities in the West have lower rates of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes compared to cities in other regions and the U.S. as a whole.

Newswise has the full release

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