New York City Is Over Weight

The general view is that NYC’s no-smoking laws are producing the desired results without imposing unreasonable costs on businesses or citizens. The same cannot be said about NYC’s law banning the use of Trans-Fats in the preparation of foods sold to the public.

According to recent studies about 2/3 of all Americans are over weight. It is generally agreed that the best way to decide if someone has a weight problem is to measure his or hers body mass index (BMI). Adults with a BMI of greater than 30 are considered obese. Carrying excessive weight leads to a greater chance of contracting diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. In 2008 the NYC Department of Health in a press release warned that NYC’s obesity rate was higher than the national average. Researchers from New York University and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver Canada reported that NYC’s obesity rate was climbing. This report confirmed what most health experts  had surmised; NYC’s affluent communities did not have high rates of obesity while the poorer neighborhoods did. I am not surprised to learn that Manhattan has the lowest incidence of obesity in the State while the outer boroughs residents tended to suffer higher rates of obesity. The researchers believed that to curb the obesity problem it would be necessary to consider factors of race, education, origin and age in devising a strategy. The report noted Mayor Bloomberg’s initiate in making available more than a 1000 fresh produce carts available for poorer neighborhoods. The Mayor in his address also mentioned this initiative. However; these carts are often located within walking distances of mobile vending units (food trucks) that sell foods that defeat any effort to promote good health. People line up at these food trucks to eat foods that are greasy, high in calories and cholesterol and unhealthy fats.

America's Shame

Most New Yorkers who already eat healthy oppose  governmental spending to (again) educate other citizens who do not watch their diet. Many people view healthy eating as only logical, since it improves overall health. For years private foundations and governmental agencies have called on people to develop better eating habits. In a developed nation like the U.S. or in a wordly city like NYC not eating healthy seems to a matter of personal  choice. In order for Mayor Bloomberg to succeed in his campaign to drastically reduce the rate of obesity, his administration must invest meaningful public resources into solving the problem.

Mayor Bloomberg in his speech did not dwell on the City’s progress in reducing obesity among its citizens. His speech completely neglected to mention that the rate of childhood obesity continues to rise in NYC. Corona, which locaed in  Queens County, has the highest rate of childhood obesity among the City’s communities. Numbers alone do not vividly describe the differences in obesity rates between NYC communities. The casual visitor to Corona cannot help notice the number of people who are overweight.

The Mayor governs in the country with the highest incidence of obesity. Mexico and England follow with the next highest rates of obesity. Over 50% of the residents of Corona Queens are Mexican nationals. Maybe the Mayor should have ceded the podium at

Taco Truck

the United Nations to a leader of a nation that has successfully controlled the problem of obesity among its citizens.

There is no doubt that obesity is direct consequence of an improper diet and the lack of sufficient exercise. People who live in neighborhoods that promote and encourage a culture of physical fitness tend to have more people with a proper BMIs. These people tend to eat less fried foods, more vegetables and supplement their diets with fresh fruits. All studies show that the rate of obesity is connected to a community’s demographics. Different communities often have completely opposite dietetic habits. The presence of gyms, fruit and salad bars, restaurants and bistros that offer healthy choices are normally indications that the local residents care about eating healthy. The lack of these kinds of establishments in a community are indications that the residents are less concerned about good dietary practices.

Most New Yorkers who already eat healthy are opposed to public spending to (again) educate other citizens who do not watch their diet to eat healthier. Many people view healthy eating as a given, since it improves overall health. For many years private foundations and governmental agencies have called on people to develop better eating habits. Consequently in developed nations like the U.S. or in cites like NYC not eating healthy seems to a matter of personal choice. In order for Mayor Bloomberg to succeed in his campaign to drastically reduce the rate of obesity, his administration must invest  public resources into the solving the problem.

To eliminate obesity among New Yorkers the Mayor must abandon his notions of being “politically correct.” The Mayor must consider factors of age, race and origin into his strategies to reduce and eliminate this public health problem. The government must develop strategies that concentrate resources on targeted neighborhoods. By focusing on the poorer and minority communities the Mayor runs the risk of alienating and offending the very people he is trying to help. Furthermore, a dialogue must be established with
community leaders of these neighborhoods who will in turn promote the Mayor’s
policy.  This is a task the mayor does not relish. People are very sensitive when it comes to discussing their eating habits in the context of ethnicity or race. The reality that the Mayor cannot ignore is that White New Yorkers have the lowest incident of obesity while the Blacks and Hispanics have the highest.

The question has always been will Mayor Bloomberg take on the obesity problem in the communities that suffer the most from the problem?

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