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City Services

February 17, 2017

City of Chicago Awarded Gold Medal AND RANKED IN TOP FIVE NATIONALLY for Policies that Improve Residents’ Quality of Life

CityHealth Awards Chicago Gold Medal for Strong Public Health Policies; Chicago in the Top for 40 Largest U.S. Cities Rated

Anel Ruiz, Department of Public Health    312.747.9698,  

For Immediate Release

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced that Chicago has been awarded a gold medal and named a leading city for a series of policies shown to improve the health and well-being of its residents. A new initiative called CityHealth released its first-ever ratings this week following a two-year analysis of how cities fare across nine policies that help residents to lead healthier lives and communities thrive.

Chicago was one of only five cities in the nation to receive an overall gold medal—the only Midwestern city to receive this award—joining Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C. Each of the policy areas identified by the CityHealth report corresponds with improvements made to local policy and programs, enacted as part of Mayor Emanuel’s steadfast commitment to improving Chicago’s neighborhoods and quality of life for all residents.
“This report confirms what we already know: Chicago is leading the nation when it comes to developing and implementing policies that make a difference in the lives of our residents,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “From raising the purchasing age of tobacco to 21 to guaranteeing paid sick time for more workers; and delivering universal pre-k for low-income children and ensuring clean and pollution-free environments for all residents to enjoy—we are building in a healthier, stronger Chicago today and for future generations.”

CityHealth’s evaluation is based on a 4-tier rating, with recommendations on the following policy areas: employment benefits, education, affordable housing, active living and transportation, public safety, tobacco control, clean indoor air, food safety and nutrition. Chicago received a gold medal in five of the key policy areas identified.

Each rating by the CityHealth report is backed by evidence, supported by qualified experts, and has a track record of bipartisan support. The CityHealth initiative was founded by the de Beaumont Foundation, an organization dedicated to equipping public health agencies across the nation to thrive in today’s evolving health landscape.

“We want every person, in every city, to live the healthiest possible life and we’ve identified ways that cities can make significant improvements,” said Ed Hunter, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation. “Good health extends into every aspect of our lives – from paid sick days to early education, from safe streets to safe food.”

As part of the city’s ongoing commitment to addressing health equity and quality of life for residents in all neighborhoods, last year CDPH introduced a four-year public health framework to address traditional health issues, as well as those systemic issues associated with poor health, including housing, education and transportation. TheHealthy Chicago 2.0 Plan works to improve overall healthcare access and health disparities by addressing a wide range of issues by improving equity and investing in neighborhoods.

The priority areas outlined in the City’s comprehensive health plan also mirror the key areas identified and measured in the CityHealth report.

“As this report shows, health is more than just medical care,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, M.D. “By investing in our neighborhoods, providing more opportunities for our children and working with communities that need the most help, we are not just improving the health of individuals, but we are improving the health of our entire city.”

More information on the nine policies measured by the CityHealth report below:
Paid Sick Days
No one should have to choose between caring for themselves or sick family members and paying their bills. Paid sick policies reduce the spread of contagious illnesses, increase employment and income stability, and save cities money in health care costs.

Universal, High-Quality Pre-Kindergarten
Done right, all children benefit from early childhood education, regardless of family income or zip code. Access to high-quality pre-k benefits children and their communities throughout the course of their entire lives – it raises children’s lifetime wages, high-school graduation rates and years of education completed, reduces crime and teen pregnancy, and improves health outcomes.

Affordable Housing and Inclusionary Zoning
Stable, safe, healthy, and affordable living conditions benefit everyone, and are crucial to children’s lifelong achievement. Affordable housing promotes diverse, inclusive neighborhoods and positive mental health, reduces crowding and exposure to environmental hazards and frees up resources to pay for health care and healthy food.

Complete Streets
We all need safe, convenient ways to get around our communities – whether that’s getting to work, getting your families to school, or enjoying recreation and active living. Complete streets policies harmonize safety with the needs of all forms of transportation from walking, to biking, driving or taking the bus. These policies expand economic growth, improve individuals’ health, and can save lives.

Alcohol Sales Control
We all want our neighborhoods to be safe places to live, work, and raise families. Neighborhoods with high concentrations of alcohol outlets are linked to more drinking and higher rates of violence and driving under the influence. Policies that address a high density of alcohol outlets can reduce crime, increase safety and reduce spending on health care and criminal justice costs.

Tobacco 21
Preventing tobacco use has already had a dramatic effect on our country yet smoking tobacco remains the single most preventable cause of death and disease. Policies that raise the minimum legal age for the sale of tobacco products to 21 reduce the number of young people using these products which greatly reduces their risk for addiction and disease.

Clean Indoor Air
Everyone should have access to clean air. These policies protect non-smokers from the harmful effects of tobacco – which is the largest preventable cause of death – and they reduce smokers’ consumption of tobacco at the same time.

Food Safety and Restaurant Inspection Ratings
Nearly half of the money we spend on food is in restaurants. Consumers should be empowered to make informed decisions before entering a restaurant to reduce their risk for foodborne illness. Policies that require food establishments to publicly post food safety inspection grades empower consumers, reduce foodborne illness and save on health care costs.

Healthy Food Procurement
Everyone benefits from access to high quality, affordable food options. Our health is heavily influenced by what we eat, and what we eat is heavily influenced by the quality, variety, and cost of food served in our workplaces, schools, and other community institutions. Policies that ensure food sold and served in city buildings meets basic nutritional standards can provide more residents with affordable and healthy food choices and reduce some of the high medical costs associated with obesity.

CityHealth will update its ratings again in three years. In the meantime, new resources from the de Beaumont Foundation will provide technical assistance and support to cities as they advance these policies, with the goal of creating healthier lives, stronger communities and cities people are proud to call home. For more details on Chicago and other cities evaluated, visit the CityHealth

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