By Ava-joye Burnett

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Where you live could determine how long you live, as new statistics show life expectancy varies across the U.S. and here in Maryland, it’s no different.

Ava-joye Burnett breaks down these new numbers and what counties have the lowest and highest life expectancy.

The difference in how long you live is all about your zip code. In one case, it was just a matter of a few miles.

Howard County has something to brag about — it has the highest life expectancy in the state at 82-years-old.

“They were number one? Yeah, I am not surprised, not at all,” says Howard County resident Rita Mobeka.

“Being healthy is just kind of a thing here,” says Miguel Diaz.

“As long as you stay healthy. That’s why I try to come in work out every day,” says Stephen Kim.

Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are also near the top, but Baltimore City is at the bottom.

At 72 years old, the life expectancy there is a decade lower than Howard County.

Johns Hopkins professor Dr. Joshua Sharfstein with the Bloomberg School of Public Health says money is one of the contributing factors.

“First those counties are richer than counties that have lower life expectancies. And that plays out in a number of different ways. Poverty can take years of life span through several mechanisms,” he says.

“And in other communities, you go outside and you may be fearful because of safety risks and there may not be any supermarket around and there are no places to exercise, no parks; and so people who live in those neighborhoods have many strikes against them.”

“So what’s causing this huge disparity between the city of Baltimore and other parts of the state? We took that question to researchers.”

Professor Ali Mokdad with the University of Washington is a co-author the report and explained socio-economic background could be a barrier, along with life expectancy.

“The most important one would be the preventable risk factors, that would be obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, blood pressure and diabetes,” says Professor Mokdad.
The professor also said better access to healthcare could close the gap and this Baltimore resident agrees.

“I want Baltimore to be a healthier city, more programs for people and more access to resources,” says Octavia Washington.

Maryland’s life expectancy actually increased during the period of this study by an average of seven years.

A county in South Dakota had the lowest life expectancy in 2014, at 66.8 years, while a county in Colorado had the highest topping the list at 86.8 years.

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Ava-joye Burnett


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