HUTTO, Texas - University of Texas Southwestern and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler analyzed more than 1.5 million state records to put together life expectancy data for almost 1,000 zip codes in the Lone Star State.
The study found Hutto has a higher life expectancy than anywhere else in Texas. At 97 years, hippo country gives people about 20 more years than the average life expectancy in the country, which the centers for disease control and prevention listed as 78.8 years in 2015.
“Our zip code can be as important as our genetic code on how healthy you can live in a community,” said Dr. David Lakey, professor at the UT Health Science Center Tyler.
Some of the things that make the biggest difference in life expectancy are already known.
“Obesity, exercise, how do we take care of our mental health, how do we support each other, a lot of those things can have a tremendous impact,” Lakey said.
Others may seem less significant, but play a bigger role than once thought.
“Health outcomes are very different depending on your background and where you live in the State of Texas,” said Lakey.
While the Austin area is seen as a healthier community, life expectancy there is literally all over the map.
“Zip codes that are close together can be very different,” Lakey said.
However, Hutto still takes the cake with the top spot for a long healthy life.
“Overall life expectancy, 97,” said Lakey.
Though the reason isn't exactly clear, there are plenty of guesses.
“You have a lot of people moving in who are taking better care of themselves,” said Crockett Kimberlin who visits Hutto frequently.
“Honestly, it's just atmosphere, the environment. We have a clean environment, water's good, everything is here, so you can just feel it in the atmosphere. Especially the food we eat as well, so it's good,” said Lordswill Uwa-Ndukwe.
Or maybe it’s just that magic mascot.
“That might be a little special gift, our little special powers or something, just the hippos with us,” Uwa-Ndukwe said.
Visit the interactive map created by researchers here.