Where you live affects health and longevity. What does the data say about Charlotte?

Where you live affects health and longevity. What does the data say about Charlotte?
Having places to exercise are among the factors that make some places healthier to live in than others. An annual ranking says Mecklenburg County is fifth-healthiest in North Carolina (David T. Foster III | Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, NC (Bruce Henderson/The Charlotte Observer) - Where you live influences how well and how long you live, new rankings show.

And they say Mecklenburg County is the fifth-healthiest North Carolina county based on how long people live and how healthy they feel.

The annual health ranking of U.S. counties comes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The rankings say Wake County is the healthiest in North Carolina, followed by Orange, Camden, Union and Mecklenburg counties. Those in poorest health are largely rural: Robeson, Scotland, Vance, Edgecombe and Columbus counties.

The disparities between healthy and non-healthy counties are stark.

*Years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 people

While medical care matters, the report says, housing, education and jobs also affect health. The report also points to racial and ethnic disparities, the report says, showing that "lack of opportunity, such as education, jobs and affordable housing, disproportionately affects people of color across the nation and within North Carolina."

Black people and American Indians living in North Carolina are more likely to live shorter lives than whites and Asians, the report says.

North Carolina has more children living in poverty, fewer people with health insurance and more teen births than the national averages.

"We need to do more to address the true underlying drivers of health, if we want to see improvements and decrease health care costs," North Carolina's state health director, Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, said in a statement. "Our vision is a North Carolina that optimizes health and well-being for all people by effectively stewarding resources that bridge our communities and our healthcare system."