Report Reveals Latest Health Trends in Boston

Compiled by the Boston Public Health Commission, the Health of Boston report shows that teen birth, stroke, and heart disease are on the decline, and obesity is growing more common.

Boston photo via Shutterstock

This year’s Health of Boston report, an annual compilation of health trends and data for the city as a whole and for specific neighborhoods, reveals some heartening news for the nation’s third healthiest city.

Findings in the report, compiled by the Boston Public Health Commission, reveal some positive news:

  • The birth rate for teenagers ages 15 to 17 dropped by nine percent from 2005 to 2010—plummeting by 55 and 40 percent in Mattapan and Roxbury, respectively. The total percentage of premature births for Boston women decreased by three percent in the same time period.
  • Numbers of reported smokers also dropped, as did the number of high school students who classified themselves as depressed or consistently sad.
  • Deaths from stroke also decreased by 15 percent from 2005 to 2010, and heart disease and asthma hospitalizations were less common in almost every neighborhood of the city.

As expected, though, the report also highlights several areas for improvement:

  • Obesity rates, unsurprisingly, increased from 2001 to 2010. The number of high school students who exercised regularly in that timespan did not improve.
  • High school students reported binge drinking as frequently as they did in 2001.
  • Plus, the report says that despite the infant mortality rate for black babies declining by 11 percent between 2001 to 2005 and 2006 to 2010, the city’s white population fares better than black and Latino citizens in categories ranging from adolescent birth rate and infant mortality to diabetes and obesity levels—a problem that transcends healthcare.

In a release, Mayor Menino commented on the report’s findings. He says:

As we work to build a healthier city for all our residents, we need to base our policies and practices on the best data available, and that’s exactly what the Health of Boston report offers,” Mayor Menino says. “The positive trends we’re seeing on issues such as infant mortality, heart disease, and smoking are encouraging, but the challenges this report brings to light, especially around obesity and physical activity, are even more informative as we set our priorities on the future.

While the results of the report are mostly good news, data is piling up that we need to work on our weight as a city. We’re doing a pretty good job, but as a city, there are still improvements to the made.