A new study shows New Yorkers on average are living longer than the rest of the nation and experts cited in the study are crediting Mayor Michael Bloomberg's health initiatives during the last decade as a leading factor.
A report in the British medical journal, "The Lancet," published June 2, found that the city's average life expectancy rose by eight years to 80.6 years between 1987 and 2009. The national average only rose during the same period 1.7 years to an expectancy of roughly 78 years, according to the journal.
While the mayor has been in office only since 2002, the experts involved in the report cited the Department of Health's programs since then to fight obesity and other health problems as helping New Yorkers live longer.
"They raised awareness that health is not only your job personally," Ali Mokdad, a health expert who led research for "The Lancet," wrote.
"The Lancet" specifically cited the city's fight against homicides and HIV/AIDS as factors why life expectancy grew at the beginning of the study period.
All five boroughs saw an increase in life expectancy, though the Bronx was the only one below the national average.
Since 30 percent of Bronx residents live below the poverty line, they do not have access to quality health care, exercise facilities or healthy foods, the study concluded.
But the city's health department helps "to make healthy choices easier for the residents of the South Bronx." Among them were attracting fresh fruit and vegetable vendors, improving asthma management and providing information and services to reduce teen pregnancy.
The city's programs such as the restaurant calorie count initiative and phasing in skim milk in public schools have also helped, the report said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture took note of the city's initiative and also plans to remove whole milk from schools nationwide.
"It's remarkable how often cities have been essentially the laboratories in which people have uncovered major truths about health," urban theorist Ed Glaeser said in the report.