New Jersey Health Initiatives - A Better State of Health
A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program
CDC Releases Groundbreaking, Neighborhood-by-Neighborhood Health Data for Nine NJ Cities
March 2, 2017

500 Cities Project Can Transform Local Health Efforts,
Making them More Targeted & Efficient

Data Includes Six NJHI-Supported Communities

Atlanta and Princeton, NJ (March 2, 2017)—New, first-of-a -kind data estimates are available for 27 chronic disease measures down to neighborhood level in Camden, Clifton, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, Paterson, Trenton and Union City, a groundbreaking development that provides public health professionals, public officials, city planners, nonprofits, and other community leaders an opportunity for more effective and efficient health improvement efforts. The new, interactive data—released for 500 of the largest cities across the United States—represents a watershed opportunity for communities to gain an additional perspective on how specific city areas fare on chronic disease measures such as smoking, obesity, mammogram and cholesterol screening rates and other factors that impact health.

The release of the 500 Cities data by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), CDC Foundation and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) marks the first time that such data is available for cities and small areas within cities. A series of interactive maps allow users to see where chronic diseases are unique to a specific area or overlap across communities.  For example, the 500 Cities data show:

Adult Asthma Rates in Camden
Note: 11.7% of Camden adults have asthma 

Adult Obesity Rates in Elizabeth
Note: 32.7% of Elizabeth adults are obese

Adults Who Sleep < 7 Hours Per Night in Jersey City
Note: 43.7% of Jersey City adults sleep < 7 hours per night 

Adult Cholesterol Screening Rates in Newark
Note: 73.9%  of Newark adults receive cholesterol screenings

*See maps for all 27 chronic disease measures for New Jersey here

“Not long ago, community leaders and health advocates often had a problem of insufficient or overly broad data. Thanks to the 500 Cities Project, we can now pinpoint health trends on a much smaller scale and implement evidence-based solutions,” said Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH, MBA, a vice president at RWJF. “We are excited about the potential for this data to transform lives neighborhood by neighborhood.”

Among the nine New Jersey municipalities included in the 500 Cities data, six – Camden, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson and Trenton – are already receiving support to build healthier communities from New Jersey Health Initiatives, the statewide grantmaking program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The 500 Cities data will allow public officials to target interventions to certain neighborhoods in ways that resonate more directly with the residents of those communities. For example, health department officials could devise targeted mammogram or cholesterol screening awareness campaigns that reach residents in bus stops, on the radio and on social media, depending on the demographics of who they want to reach. Urban planners can use the data to determine the best locations for new sidewalks, bike lanes, bus lanes, parks, or playgrounds based on obesity, blood pressure, heart disease or exercise data.

“Having the ability to report and map tract-level health data at the city and neighborhood level is a game changer for public health,” said Wayne H. Giles, M.D., M.S., former division director for the Division of Population Health and now director of the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the CDC. “Local level data available through the 500 Cities website will provide health information to better inform and target strategies that are proven to work in improving health.”

“To ensure the health of America’s neighborhoods and communities, it is vital to understand the scope of the nation’s most pressing health challenges,” said Judith A. Monroe, M.D., president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “We are grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for this important grant, and are excited to see the potential for this data.”

The 500 Cities Project is a joint effort of RWJF, the CDC Foundation and the CDC. The Project analyzes, reports and maps city and census tract data for key chronic disease measures—including the conditions, behaviors and risk factors that have substantial impact on population health.  The project leverages data from CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).  More than one-third of the U.S. population lives in the nation’s 500 largest cities.