This week I have been in sunny San Francisco attending the American Public Health Association (APHA) 2012 Annual Conference. APHA has launched a powerful poster campaign throughout the city highlighting health inequalities through the different life expectancies of residents in different zip codes. Life expectancy can vary by decades depending on where you grow up. The campaign’s tag line is “your zip code shouldn’t predict how long you’ll live, but it does.”
In highly unequal countries like the USA and the UK, income and the community where you grow up can dramatically effect your life chances. A famous example is how in the UK you can actually predict how long someone will stay in education from their birthweight.
UCL Academic Dr James Cheshire recently mapped Londoners life expectancy on the London Underground map. Dr Cheshire found a 20 year life expectancy gap between people born near Oxford Circus and those born near some stations in East London on the Docklands Light Railway.
It is unacceptable that someone from deprived urban areas should automatically have fewer opportunities and a poorer quality of life than someone born in a more affluent area. Well done to the American Public Health Association for drawing attention to this important public health issue.