Neighbourhoods in the downtown areas of Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa tend to have lower incomes, according to the recently released The Health Neighbourhoods report.
These downtowns have more seniors living alone, more households that rent and fewer young people, said the report, updated this month.
These urban areas also have some important health challenges, said the report.
The Health Neighbourhoods initiative examines information for 50 Health Neighbourhoods in Durham Region to better understand patterns of health in its communities. The ultimate goal is to support strong, safe and equitable neighbourhoods that improve the health and well-being of all residents.
Income & Health
The report said income has a big impact on health.
“Neighbourhoods with the lowest incomes tend to have poorer health. Seven Priority Neighbourhoods have been identified by the Health Department as communities that require focus to build on health and well-being”.
The report said young families are most concentrated in neighbourhoods in north and east Ajax, north Whitby, north Oshawa and north Bowmanville.
Some indicators show striking east-west differences. West Durham Region has higher populations of recent immigrants and visible minorities, higher income levels and longer commutes to work.
Although babies in Ajax and Pickering are more likely to have a birth weight that is too low and less likely to receive the enhanced 18-month well- baby visit, breastfeeding rates are higher and births to older mothers are higher.
East Durham Region residents are more likely to have an injury that results in an emergency department visit, higher rates of lung disease and babies born with a birth weight that is too high, said the report.
It said rural neighbourhoods have lower birth rates, smaller populations of young children, more seniors and fewer visible minorities and recent immigrants.
They also have higher rates of enteric diseases and emergency department visits for injuries. Adults living in rural neighbourhoods tend to eat more vegetables and fruit, have lower prevalence of asthma in children, diabetes in adults and lower ambulance call to residences.
In general, Durham Region residents enjoy good health, said the report.
Neighbourhoods & Health
However, research shows that where we live can affect our health. The physical, social and economic characteristics of an area can influence physical activity levels, how easy it is to get to work, the quality of housing, social interactions, access to health care, availability of nutritious versus unhealthy foods, exposure to crime and violence, how we feel about where we live, our connection to nature and much more. All of these factors affect our health and well-being.
Within a neighbourhood there can be considerable variation with a mix of people, housing and physical characteristics. It is also possible that people living in one area can be very similar to those on the other side of the street who are bounded by a different neighbourhood.
Durham & Ontario
In general, Durham Region has similar health status to Ontario, which is generally similar to Canada. Canada is one of the healthiest countries in the world. That does not mean that there is no room for improvement. Some neighbourhoods have tremendous challenges, said the report.