CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The City of Charleston Health and Wellness Advisory Committee on Wednesday discussed why Charleston residents living in certain zip codes live on average 15 years longer than their neighbors living just a few miles away, and what the city can do to address the disparity.
According to the US Small-area Life Expectancy Estimates Project (USALEEP), Charleston residents living in the zip codes 29407 and 29414 — parts of West Ashley and Johns Island — live the longest, with an average life expectancy of about 81 years.
That’s 15 years longer than their neighbors in the 29405 zip code of North Charleston, where the average life expectancy is 66 years.
Residents on the peninsula fall somewhere in between, with an average life expectancy of 71 reported in the 29403 zip code.
Of note, there is a 10 year gap in average life expectancy for residents living within the same West Ashley zip code of 29407. Residents living in the Northbridge and South Windemere areas have an average life expectancy of 81, while residents living around the Saint Andrews Heights area have an average life expectancy of 71.
The committee believes the deviation is at least in part a result of social determinants of health, including social inequities, institutional power, living conditions, and risk behaviors.
Through a combination of strategic partnerships, advocacy, community/civic engagement, and education, the committee hopes to close the gap in health outcomes.
The plan to address the disparities includes providing more access to transportation — including more bike/pedestrian paths, improving the safety of existing transit systems, promoting access to fresh, healthy foods through things like farmers markets, and studying the impact of environmental factors like extreme temperatures.