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A new study shows New Yorkers on the average are living longer than the rest of the U.S., and experts are crediting the mayor's health initiatives during the last decade as a leading factor.

A report in the British-based 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 1.7 years during the same period, to an expectancy of roughly 78 years, according to the journal.

While Mayor Mike Bloomberg has only been in office since 2002, the experts behind 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," health expert Ali Mokdad, who led the research, said in the report. "If you decide to live healthier, the system and the people around you should encourage you, and make it easier for you to do so in your community."

All five boroughs saw a huge increase in life expectancy, but the Bronx was the only neighborhood that was below the national average, according to the report.

Since 30% of Bronx residents live below the poverty line, they do not have access to quality health care, exercise facilities or healthy foods.

The Health Department and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's programs, such as the restaurant calorie count initiative, have helped to alleviate such burdens, the report said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture took note and announced it is removing whole milk from school lunches 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.

New Yorkers, however, said the mayor did not deserve all the praise.

Heather Ireland, a teacher from Brooklyn, said she wasn't sure that a decade of health initiatives could immediately boost life expectancy.

"I think it all could be short term," she said.

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