A look at why one in four New Yorkers is obese

The Big Apple is getting bigger – literally – as obesity levels among New York City residents has nearly tripled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One in four New Yorkers is battling the bulge and according to the CDC, being overweight means a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25-30, while anything more than 30 is obese.

A recent study made by WalletHub ranked each state, based on more than two dozen key metrics including the share of obese and overweight people, sugary drink consumption among adolescents and obesity-related health care costs.

“New York is the state where people work the longest hours and research shows that New Yorkers is very often stressed and lacks sleep which contributes to obesity,” said Walter Willett, Chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“The society in New York City is structured around productivity and long work hours which leads to unbalanced lives and often unhealthy lifestyles,” he added.

Besides a stressful lifestyle, Willet explains that a part of the growing obesity rates is connected with lower incomes and education, which result in purchases of cheap foods that are high in refined starch and sugar.

“Cheap and unhealthy foods mixed with a sedentary lifestyle has made obesity the new normal in New York, which makes it hard to make a change,” Willett said.

The key is to provide a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity and food with fewer calories.

“Some healthy eating tips that are affordable is to include the five food groups, especially focusing on whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables in main meals of the day,” explains Arpita Basu, Professor in Nutrition Sciences at the University of Nevada. “In addition, eating in a relaxed mood while sitting down, not eating while watching TV, and eating with someone or family will make eating a healthy experience,” she added.

Basu urges that each of us needs to become an advocate for a healthier way of life.

“Adults can start by teaching our youngsters about good dietary habits, by insisting on a better balance in the workplace, and by demanding more accountability from the food and health industries, and our government,” Basu said.

“It took us many, many years to get as fat as we are as a nation, and it’s going to take us a similar number of years, or certainly a lot of effort to reverse that trend,”