Healthy in Manhattan

How residents of the borough stack up in terms of diet, exercise and longevity

04 Feb 2020 | 03:18

How’s your health?

Nearly eight of ten New Yorkers say, “Just peachy, thank you.” In Manhattan, the count is even higher. No wonder: Statistics compiled by the NYC Department of Health show that Manhattanites are more active, eat smarter, smoke less, and are more likely than folks in the other boroughs to get vaccinated against the flu.

Here’s the catch. Like the United States, Manhattan has its own electoral college: Neighborhoods. Each one has its own health profile, some better, some worse than the island average. For example, says Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, “People living in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen seem to be consuming more fruits and vegetables and less sugary sodas. We need to know why and learn how to bring others along.” One possibility: Keep supermarkets in place to avoid “food deserts,” places where fresh foods are hard to find because local bodegas outnumber full-service supermarkets by as much as 18-1.

Cargando reproductor ...

Some neighborhoods defy expectations. You may think our most populous one, the Upper East Side, is a bastion of billionaires with an exclusive cigar bar on every corner, but for Council Member Ben Kallos it’s “the secret sauce in the City melting pot, home to residents of every age, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic background.” It’s also got the lowest percentage of smokers.

Across the island at Riverside Park Conservancy, CEO Dan Garodnick endorses exercising in public parks as “good not only for physical well-being, but also mental health.” He should know. Riverside Park, which Gothamist calls the best green space in New York, draws more than 3 million visitors a year, lots of whom must come from the southern West Side where nine of every ten people follow Garodnick’s advice to keep moving. Which is smart, especially when there’s a bicycle aiming for you. Since 2011, cyclists have run into more than 2,250 City pedestrians, mostly in Manhattan where East Harlem topped the list in 2018 with 29 injuries for every 100,000 residents.

If you were one of them you know it’s a good idea to have health insurance like 97 percent of folks in Stuyvesant Town and Turtle Bay. Good for them, says their Council Member Carlina Rivera, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Hospitals. “While the number of New Yorkers without health insurance continues to decline, the Take Care New York [TCNY] 2020 goal is to have fewer than 9 percent go without needed medical care due to lack of a policy.”

Finally, yes, we Manhattanites die of the same Big Three – cancer, heart disease, flu & pneumonia – as everyone else, but our suicide rate of 5.3 people per 100,000, is a whopping 30 percent lower than New York State as a whole. In fact, our one notable failing is that we binge drink more often than folks in the four other boroughs, probably due to the stress of being better in everything else.