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Chicken-Fried News: Number crunch

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INGVARD ASHBY
  • Ingvard Ashby

Regardless of whether you believe in numerology, one number might have a significant influence over your lifetime in Oklahoma City: your ZIP code.

A recently released study by Oklahoma City-County Health Department calculates life expectancy rates for OKC residents and reveals a nearly 18-year gap between the lowest and highest rates. While a resident of north OKC ZIP code 73131 has an average life expectancy of 81.67 years, a resident of zip code 73145 — where Tinker Air Force Base is located — has an average life expectancy of 63.81 years.

Followers of Pythagorean numerology would change the numbers to letters and spell out “80085” on a calculator or something, and fundamentalist Republicans would probably blame either chemtrails or God’s wrath at the robotic false angels we call airplanes, but the health department study cites multiple factors, including education, income, access to health care services and healthy food options, crime and infectious diseases.

"There are a number of factors that if you have access to those, you're more likely to be healthy," Oklahoma City-County Health Department executive director Gary Cox told KFOR earlier this month. "Generally, what we've found is that in the urban core, the life expectancy is shorter.”

While, according to the department’s 2017 OKC-County Wellness Score report, the 73131 ZIP code actually has a higher percentage of households living below the poverty line (6 percent) than the 73145 ZIP code (a county-low 1.5 percent), this appears to be an anomaly. The ZIP codes with the highest poverty rates, 73117 (33.2 percent) and 73129 (32.5 percent), also have two of the lowest life expectancies at 68.08 and 69.8 years, respectively.

Pythagoras was right; some numbers do seem to dictate the course of one’s life.

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