. . . is the web site head, but hard-copy afficionados find "Does where you live affect how long you live?" Either way, the story has a lot to live down for the half-way alert reader. The lede is no help: Jim Ritter has "Harvard researchers . . . reporting huge and growing gaps in life expectancies throughout the United States. "Asian-American females in Bergen County, N.J." and "Native American males in six South Dakota counties" are the long and short of it. Are we supposed to think that all things being equal, Bergen County is more salubrious than S. Dakota's Six?
Counties "start the best" and "just keep getting better," says one of the Harvard-ites. What is a county anyway? Have you ever met one? Ah, but in the 6th graf, we find males and females — you've met them, I'm sure — average 72 in expectancy in Cook County (males), which once was considered pretty good, even by some of us who by that measure are on borrowed time. Heck, it's been borrowed since Day One: This night do they require thy soul of thee, said God in Luke, calling the man a fool who didn't know that, and if God thinks he's a fool, so do I.
But 72 and a few months is lowest in Chi area, DuPage County females are tops at 81.5. Move that sick guy to DuPage and give him an operation: it will add years. How can we not do that? Finally, in the 8th graf (of 13), we get to some sort of honest to God cause and effect:
Life expectancy gaps are due in large part to varying death rates [ah-hah] in young and middle-age adults from cancer and chronic diseases of the heart, lungs and liver, [researcher] Murray said.The disparities are due in part to inequitable health care. For example, 47 million people in the United States -- nearly 16 percent -- don't have health insurance. [Moving to DuPage or Bergen won't get you more, I don't think. You have to buy it.]But the main reasons for the gaps are related to risk factors for premature death. In order of importance, these risk factors are smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, low fruit and vegetable consumption and physical inactivity, Murray said.
Wait a minute. If I live in Cook but don't smoke or drink or get fat or have high b.p and cholesterol and eat lots of fruit and vegetables and exercise a lot, I might live as long as the woman of whatever ethnicity in Wheaton or the Asian woman in Bergen? Very good. I feel better already.
As for Native Americans, it's not South Dakota that's the problem, but "diabetes and alcohol-related deaths from traffic accidents and cirrhosis of the liver [that] account for much of the low life expectancies" among them. This is good news for Native American men in the Six Counties who do not have to move to increase their expectancies.
O.K., enough already. You get my sarcastic point. Won't matter anyhow, because the story had to be sold, and to announce as news that if you live right, you live longer would merit no headline at all, because it wouldn't be news at all, which may be news to Harvard researchers plugging away at their task but should not be to S-T editors and headline writers. Did I say it's on page three, by the way, or that "Move to the suburbs, live longer" is a page one reefer head? I didn't? Well now I did.