The Relationship Between Obesity and Socioeconomic Status in New York City

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • Kids have doubled the number of snacks they eat in a day

    The snacks they prefer are higher in calories than they were 20 years ago

    The average teen gets 37% of their calories outside the home

    Teens get 17% of their calories from fast food

    Most kids/teens drink 3 cans of soda/day

    Most teen boys eat 34 teaspoons of sugar/day

    About half of a teen's weekly diet is junk food


    An average teen girl eats 5467 calories of junk food/fast food weekly

    An average teen boy eats 9891 calories of junk food/fast food weekly


    And the prize for the heaviest number of clinically obese teens (29%) in New York goes to....Corona, Queens.  The zip code in New York with the highest percentage of lean kids, belongs to the upper west side, 10069, which happens to be near Carnegie Hall and Central Park.  The median income there is double that of Corona, and there are more healthy supermarkets offering fresh selections of whole foods.  Washington Heights, Bushwick, Inwood and Harlem all have substantial statistics showcasing a significantly overweight or obese young population too.  What's NYC doing wrong?? Well, let's talk about what they are doing right first.

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    This is a city that has made calorie posting at fast food restaurants the norm.  The city has also tackled soda and vending machine offerings in schools, and tried to suggest salt reduction to companies that sell products there.  Schools do have a mandate to identify overweight and obese kids and then do interventions with special support.  There are city and rooftop gardens gently peppering the city, but the childhood and teen obesity statistics defy these efforts.  What gives?


    Many areas still lack safe outdoor places for kids to play in; accessibility and affordability of fresh and tasty whole foods still lags in lower socio-economic regions of the city and state.  And the home environment and attitude needs to change before you will sustain weight loss and healthier attitude or mentality among the kids.  Parents who were interviewed by a New York newspaper complained that at camp this summer kids were allowed to eat excessively - soda and hot dogs the main fare.  Parents say at school lunch, their kids can end up eating peanut butter sandwiches and fries regularly.  Fair comments, but what about what is going on at home?  So let's take a lesson from Michelle Obama's parenting skills.


    If you know there's a problem, deal with it head on.  Find out what help is accessible to you. Ask your pediatrician if there are programs accessible to you - support, educational or otherwise - to help you manage your family's nutrition and exercise needs.  Find out if there's a health counselor or teacher at school willing to help.  See if your local grocer will offer bulk discounts on healthy cereal, fruit and vegetables, whole grains and beans and legumes.  Set a side a day on the weekend to travel to a Farmer's Market.  Even if they are baby steps of change, every effort you make to improve the quality of eating will translate into better health for all family members.  Every effort you make to introduce exercise and activity into your family life will help to offset weight and health issues.


Published On: December 09, 2010