Queens leads city in statewide health study – QNS.com

Queens leads city in statewide health study

A study which found that Queens has the least number of smokers in the five boroughs also found that borough residents’ health has been bolstered by access to parks.
By Philip Newman

Queens leads the city in a health study that reports that the borough has the fewest smokers in the city but the highest percentage of people without health insurance.

Queens, rated No. 22 statewide, also has the lowest number of citywide deaths of people under 75. The Bronx came in last among New York state’s 62 counties.

The survey by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that Putnam County, about 60 miles north of New York City, was the state’s healthiest.

Manhattan was ranked 30th, Staten Island 34th and Brooklyn 58th. Nassau County came in No.6, Westchester 9th and Suffolk 18th.

The researchers for the survey checked such factors as smoking, access to parks, how many doctors are available, exercise and density of liquor stores. They also looked at longevity and the general health of residents.

“The high figure of 18 percent for people in Queens who are uninsured stands out, but the information for smoking and several other categories are encouraging,” said Bridget Booske, senior scientist and head of the county rankings project that produced the survey.

Queens also had the city’s lowest number of children in poverty — 17 percent.

In the category health officials call premature death for those under 75, Queens had 5,239 between 2004 and 2006. The Bronx had 8,426, Brooklyn 7,009, Staten Island 6,033 and Manhattan 5,482.

As for access to healthy food, 81percent of Queens residents qualified compared to 73 percent in Brooklyn, 92 percent in the Bronx, 86 percent in Staten Island and only 26 percent in Manhattan.

Since the recommended access to healthy food was 71 percent, Manhattan’s access fell far below the health standard.

Jessica Athens, of the County Health Rankings report, said the low score for Manhattan might have resulted from the criteria for the kind of store where healthy food was sold.

“Our definition of a store where healthy food would be available is one having more than four employees,” Athens said.

Queens at 28 percent led all the boroughs except Manhattan at 56 percent for residents with college degrees. The rate was 27 percent in Brooklyn, 16 percent in the Bronx and 27 percent in Staten Island.

Queens had the most people with no health insurance at 18 percent, followed by 16 percent in Brooklyn, 17 percent in Manhattan, 12 percent in Staten Island and 11 percent in the Bronx.

As for access to a doctor or other primary care provider, Queens had 116 per 100,000 people, the Bronx 106, Brooklyn 135, Staten Island 148 and Manhattan 296.

Queens was tied with the Bronx at 13 percent in binge drinking, both the lowest citywide.

Adult obesity in Queens at 23 percent was lower than any borough except Manhattan with 15 percent.

Researchers set 0.8 percent as the ideal density of liquor stores or other availability of alcohol for each county. Brooklyn was 1 percent, the Bronx 0.8 percent, Manhattan 1.8, Staten Island 0.8 percent and Queens 0.9 percent.

“Healthier counties tend to be urban/suburban whereas the least healthy counties are mostly rural,” the report said.

“People in least healthy counties tend to smoke more and people living in the least healthy counties are 60 percent more likely to be admitted to the hospital for preventable conditions — a sign of poor outpatient and primary care,” the report said.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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