Where you live shapes your health, but don’t rely on zip codes to decode health disparities

Over the last decade, a body of public health research has shown that place — where you were born and where you live — is one of the most important determining factors of how healthy you are. It’s fascinating stuff, and it’s made for some splashy headlines proclaiming that “zip code” is more important than “genetic code.” But while the overlying point is correct, those headlines can reinforce a problematic trend in public health research: Zip codes were designed to help mail carriers be more efficient, not for finding meaningful health trends among communities. There are limitations on how they...

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