Study proves place matters when it comes to health in Danville

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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) A recent study proves that where you live can have an effect on your health, even down to the street.

According to the first Dan River Region Health Equity report, if you live in a higher-income part of Danville, you will likely live 18 years longer in full health, than if you lived in a poorer part of the city.

"Place matters. The environment in which you live really matters," says senior program officer of community health and wellness with the Danville Regional Foundation, Annie Martinie.

Some areas of Danville don't have immediate access to things like transportation or physical activity opportunities. They don't have access to affordable healthy foods, or cost of care.

The report took 10 months to complete, and those in charge say this is just the beginning.

"Having this baseline data to start is really helpful in thinking about how are we aligning. Are there certain strategies or implementation efforts that we need to modify and change?" says project manager for the Health Collaborative, Elyse Jardine.

They looked at factors like employment status, education, and household income.

The city is broken up in census tracts. Residents in the higher-income west end area are likely to live 17.9 years longer at full health, than those in the Cedar Terrace area in Danville.

Researchers say that's a problem.

"How are we currently doing the work and how does that reflect in the data? Then, how does our work need to change? Whether that's innovative techniques, or implementing new policies or strategies," says Jardine.

But they can't change a whole city by themselves.

"People in the health industry can't do this alone. We have to be working with people in education, in the schools, in the city, to really align resources in a way that affects communities specifically," says Martinie.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Danville, but it's cancer in Pittsylvania County.

The report is full of useful information. The link to the full report can be found to the right under Related Links.