The average African American male’s life expectancy hovers around 69 years, while the average female may reach 77 years. By comparison, Asian and Pacific Islander men and women may expect to reach 82 and 87 years respectively. What’s happening on the Los Angeles County map compiled by the Office of Health Assessment and Epidemiology?
While the average life expectancy in Los Angeles County is 80.3 years, there are marked differences on this map. For example, Long Beach, Compton, Pomona and San Fernando feature an expected age range falling between 72.4 and 79.2 years. On the other end of the spectrum, in Glenda, Agoura Hills, La Canada and Cerritos, the life expectancy can be as high as 82.6 to 87.8 years.
It is clear that poverty, availability of health care and nutrition as well as the presence of crime all make a huge difference. The Los Angeles County map outlines that (overall) the top three causes of death for men are 1) coronary heart disease, 2) murder and 3) car crashes. For women, primary causes of death are 1) coronary heart disease, 2) breast cancer and 3) car accidents.
Breaking down this statistic by race is more telling and quite sobering.
Caucasians, Asians and Pacific Islanders face coronary heart disease as the primary cause of death. For Hispanics and African Americans it is homicide. As a Los Angeles County resident, the numbers do underscore a very visible reality: gang activity kills off the youngsters who do not have the option to enjoy structured and family-supported after-school activities and who live in areas infested with gangs.
As a county with a fast food burger joint on virtually any corner, it is not surprising that food choices are slowly killing off the remaining residents. Yet will merely the availability of affordable fresh fruits, veggies and other healthy food choices really make a difference? According to the life expectancy statistics, they factor into the overall longevity of the population, but perhaps it is a personal unwillingness to choose wisely that has a larger impact on the population than merely the affordable nature of the goods.
Another problem is the ubiquitous nature of a drug culture and a frequently associated gang life. Ingrained in a familial lifestyle that entices many a youngster because it spans multiple generations, it is not surprising that male life expectancy is cut short by risky behavior on the roads and due to homicide. The idea that after-school programs and stay-in-school promotions can relieve this issue is overly optimistic, especially since it requires familial support, which may be frequently lacking.
Office of Health Assessment and Epidemiology: “Life Expectancy in Los Angeles County”