Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1

Q: What criteria does Healthy Hearts use to determine its priority census tracts?

A: Healthy Hearts SF is focusing its efforts on census tracts where at least 30% of the population has an income below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and at least 25% of adults over the age of 25 do not have a high school education. These priority populations represent 12% of the county’s population but more than 30% of SF’s African American and Latino populations.   In four of the census tracts, per capita income is below $15,000, and among this population roughly 50% do not speak English fluently.

Question 2

Q: What kinds of racial and ethnic health disparities exist in San Francisco?

A: Overall, African American men and women have the highest death rates in SF; death rates among African Americans are about 2.5 times higher than rates among the ethnic groups with the lowest rates of the same causes of death.

  • More than 20% of adults in SF have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. This percentage is more than double among African Americans. SF individuals with incomes under 200% of the FPL are more likely to have high blood pressure than those with high income. High blood pressure prevalence is highest among African Americans with incomes below 300% of the FPL.
  • In SF, 41.8% of adults and 30% of youth are overweight or obese. African Americans (33%) and Latinos (37%) are more likely to be obese than whites (11%) and Asians (21%). Households earning less than the FPL are more likely to have obese members than those earning an income at least 200% of the FPL.
  • More African Americans (7%) report having had a stroke than Latinos (1%) and whites (1%)
  • More African Americans (15%) in SF have been diagnosed with heart disease than Whites (7%), Asians (4%) and Latinos (2%).
  • More African Americans (14%) report having pre-diabetes than Latinos (3%), whites (4%) and Asians (11%).

Question 3

Q: What are some of the risk factors that contribute to these racial inequities?

The prevalence of smoking is higher among African Americans (21%) than among other ethnic groups. Smoking prevalence is also higher among the lowest-income adults in households earning less than 200% of the FPL.

  • 40% of SF residents reported living a sedentary lifestyle. When including walking, only 23% of adults reported getting moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes/day for 5 days/week. Only 18% of Latinos and 27% of African Americans reported regular exercise. 52% of Latino children ages 5-11 report no days of being physically active for at least one hour the week before being interviewed, compared to 14% of white children.


Sources: U.S. Census 2012; Death Statistical Master Files 2010; CA Health Interview Survey 2009, 2011-2012


Additional sources: San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership (