By Leisa Zigman I-Team Reporter
St. Louis (KSDK) - If you live in St. Charles County, it's possible you'll live longer than anyone else in our region; 79 years.
The numbers are almost as good for those of you living in St. Louis County. But it is a much different story in the City of St. Louis. The I-Team's Leisa Zigman obtained life expectancy numbers that won't be released until the end of the year.
You'll see the data here first, but digging deeper, the numbers show a much bigger story than privilege versus poverty.
Just look into the giant brown eyes of 3-year-old Dion. We met him waiting for a bus that will take him and his dad on a 30 minute ride to school. Dion loves football, Dora the Explorer and candy. Because he is growing up in zip code 63106, he may likely live a shorter life than other kids in the city, the region, the state, or the nation. In fact, the CIA's world fact book shows children in Iraq, Iran, and Egypt will live a longer life than Dion.
Pam Walker is the Health Director for the City of St. Louis. She shared the preliminary life expectancy data with us because she said the numbers need to be reported sooner rather than later.
"It's some of the shortest life expectancy of modern time," said Walker.
Growing up in 63106 means parts of your neighborhood look more like a cell then a community and backyards look more like junkyards.
Zip code 63106 is bordered by I-70 to the east, N. Grand to the west, St. Louis Avenue to the north, and Dr. Martin Luther King Drive to the south.
It is where smoking is often embraced and places to walk or bike are not.
The new data shared with the I-Team shows people who live in 63106 have an average life expectancy of 69 years. Here is a breakdown for other parts of our viewing area.
Life Expectancy- Missouri (Source: Missouri Dept. of Health)
*63106 (North St. Louis) - 69.2
*City of St. Louis - 76.03
Franklin - 76.35
St. Louis County - 78.08
St. Charles County- 79.07
*The county data was provided by the Mo Department of Health, while city numbers came from the St. Louis Department of Health.
Life Expectancy-Illinois (Source:University of Washington's Life Expectancy Report)
Walker has some reasons 63106 has a low life expectancy.
"Its smoking, its nutrition, (lack of) exercise, obesity. Those are the number one reasons," she said.
Walker continued, "When you are working two jobs and you have three kids, it is really difficult to take time off for yourself to get a mammogram."
Just three miles away from those in 63106 is a world as different as a foreign country.
In zip code 63108 neatly manicured lawns and beautiful landscaping paint an artistic tapestry around the mansions they adorn. It's where frappuccinos and sushi are as common as jogging and shopping.
Zip code 63108 has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the city, 77 years. That means statistically, if you live in the Central West End, you live eight years longer than someone in 63106. You get eight more years of birthdays, holidays, and life experiences.
Zip code 63106 residents we talked to did not believe the data saying numbers can be skewed. Scotty Brownlee, 45, told us he's going to beat the odds.
"If you eat right and take care of yourself, you can overcome the statistics," said Brownlee.
The city's health director says they are taking steps to help people not only in 63106 but in other parts of North St. Louis. She envisions corner stores in 63106 where fruits and vegetables are more common than booze and cigarettes.
But Walker knows there are no easy or fast solutions. Change will take a lot of thought and action.
"If we don't address things like smoking and obesity, we may be the generation that has the longest life expectancy in history and it will go down from there," said Walker.
Unless things change, growing up in 63106 means Dion has a 58 percent likelihood of graduating high school or living as long as those just a few miles away. The data also showed those in 63106 have an average income of $22,923 a year. While the average income for the rest of St. Louis is double at $44,675.
The highest life expectancy in the City of St. Louis is zip code 63109 in South St. Louis. That includes the St. Louis Hills neighborhood. There, life expectancy is 82 years, 13 years more than 63106.
Click here for a life expectancy breakdown for every county in Missouri listed shortest to longest.