New Yorkers healthier, says report

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New Yorkers are taking better care of themselves by cutting down on smoking, junk food and alcohol while exercising more, according to a report released Wednesday by the city's health department.

Not only is life expectancy at a record high, with the average New Yorker living to 80.9 years, it showed a three-year increase from 2001, according to the Take Care New York 2012 report.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the secret behind the improvements is the city's focus on preventive health care and push for better lifestyles.

"The combined result is that New Yorkers are now living longer and healthier lives than ever before," he said in a statement.

The study began in 2004 when the city made 10 goals to improve its overall bill of health and watched improvements over the years.

The recent report tracked changes in key "health core" areas between 2007 and 2012. Many of these sectors showed significant improvements over the past five years.

A little more than 15 percent of New York adults smoked in 2012, 2 percent fewer than five years ago and a 28 percent drop from 2002.

During that decade, Mayor Michael Bloomberg began his campaign to reduce smoking with bans in restaurants and, later, public parks.

Deaths from cardiovascular disease went from 54.3 people per 100,000 in 2007 to 44.2 in 2011, according to the report.

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"Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death," said Lisa Young, a nutritionist who teaches at NYU. "That has a huge affect on mortality rates."

During his 12-year tenure, the mayor aimed to reduce the city's obesity rate with various strategies, including advertising campaigns and the plan to ban the sale of oversized sugary drinks. Though the ban fizzled, it seems that New Yorkers are getting his message. The number of people who drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage per day declined from 35.9 percent in 2007 to 28.2 percent in 2012, the report said.

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