Regional Plan Association released a study, State of the Region’s Health, which takes stock of the metropolitan region’s public health and compares its key health metrics with other urban areas. The study shows how New York’s walkable neighborhoods and robust transit network provide health advantages that other regions around the nation lack. But it also reveals significant disparities in health among different parts of the New York region.

Residents in poorer counties in both urban areas such as the Bronx and rural areas in the Hudson Valley have much lower life expectancy than those in wealthier counties. The report also reveals inequalities in health: Hispanic children, for example, are twice as likely to live in areas with high air pollution as white children.

The study focuses on how the urban setting, especially transportation, housing and environmental factors such as pollution and open space, influence health outcomes. Some 80% of health outcomes are influenced by things other than health care, such as income, education, neighborhood walkability, pollution and access to social services.

The study is part of an RPA initiative supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to determine how health goals can be integrated nationwide into urban planning decisions.

“This project is an exciting first step in identifying how health considerations can be integrated into urban planning decisions,” said Mandu Sen, RPA senior planner and lead author of the study. "Major metropolitan areas will have to make significant investments in their infrastructure in the coming years, and maximizing the health benefits of these plans will help build a foundation for the well-being of all Americans.”

Read the full report.