Charlotte scored a bronze medal – with “room to improve” – in the first CityHealth assessment of policies that affect population health in the 40 largest U.S. cities.
Cities of comparable size, such as Jacksonville, Memphis, Nashville and Austin, didn’t win gold, silver or bronze medals, which made Dr. Marcus Plescia, Mecklenburg County Health Director, proud of local efforts.
“Most cities in the Southeast that I would compare ourselves to didn’t get a medal at all,” Plescia said. “I was pleased we got bronze. But I’d like to see us get to silver or gold.”
CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation, plans to regularly evaluate cities on nine policies that can help communities thrive and people to lead healthier, longer lives. The report will be updated in three years.
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Plescia said the report lays out “some benchmarks that we really need to place more emphasis on.…I hope it gets the public and particularly community leaders thinking about the fact that policies are very important.”
In addition to overall medals, CityHealth awarded individual medals for progress on each policy. In that review, Charlotte won two gold and two silver medals. But in the five other categories, Charlotte received no medals because state law precludes local governments from acting on policies such as providing paid sick leave and requiring affordable housing in new developments.
Charlotte received gold medals for “Restaurant Grading,” which is performed by Plescia’s health department, and for providing high-quality universal pre-kindergarten programs. The city’s silver medals were for clean indoor air and for “complete streets,” including policies that encourage pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly streets. “That’s a very progressive thing for us to score so well on,” Plescia said.
Here are Charlotte’s results:
▪ Clean indoor air: Silver
▪ Paid sick leave: No medal
▪ Restaurant grading: Gold
▪ Complete streets: Silver
▪ Healthy food procurement: No medal
▪ Inclusionary zoning (that includes affordable housing): No medal
▪ High-quality, universal pre-kindergarten: Gold
▪ Alcohol sales control: No medal
▪ Prohibit tobacco sales under 21: No medal