The American Fitness Index has ranked Washington, DC as the nation’s fittest city for three years in a row, based on a number of personal and community health factors. For instance, 28% of District of Columbia residents are obese, compared to 63.8% nationally. Although data indicates that the region is healthy overall, when broken down by ward, a different story emerges. Ward 3 has the lowest prevalence of obesity, at 12%. Ward 3 also has the highest median annual income, at $114,847. Wards 2, 6, 1, 4, and 5, respectively, have the next lowest obesity rates, ranging from 15.3% to 32.1%. Interestingly, this data shares the same trend as median annual income, which decreases from $93,237 in Ward 2 to $66,874 in Ward 4. The starkest difference in both obesity rate and median annual income occurs in wards 7 and 8, which have obesity rates of 35% and 42.8%, and median annual incomes of $37,199 and $34,327, respectively.
Within the District, there are significant disparities in health among people of different races, ethnicities and incomes. These differences can be partially attributed to social determinants of health, which are the conditions that people are born, grow, work, live, and age.
Washington, DC has substantial health resources. There are an estimated 1,354 primary care providers practicing in the District. Hospital care is accessible, although unevenly distributed: there are 6 hospitals located in Northwest DC, 1 in Northeast, and 1 in Southeast. Additionally, the District contains a rehabilitation hospital and several centers focused on providing care to Veterans.
According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, the District of Columbia leads the nation in health coverage enrollment, with 74-percent of the eligible population obtaining health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The DC Healthcare Alliance Program (“the Alliance”) is a locally-funded program established in 2001 that provides medical assistance to low-income District residents who are not eligible for Medicaid, Medicare, or federally subsidized health insurance under the ACA.
The District has a robust network of 15 community health centers and other community-based health services organizations, with nearly 60 health care delivery sites. This safety-net health care system serves approximately 1 out of 3 District residents.
Although access to health care is good, there are persistent health disparities among lower-income communities, as well as black and Hispanic communities, in certain parts of the city, resulting from socioeconomic inequity.