Dispatch: Childhood Obesity Varies By Neighborhood

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A large study of New York City children indicates that the incidence of childhood obesity ranges from 51 percent in Corona to 12 percent in the Upper West Side. The study assessed more than 635,000 kindergarten through eighth grade children using “Fitnessgram” assessments — which measure strength, endurance, flexibility, and body mass index — and found that obesity affects 40 percent of the city’s children overall, predominantly afflicting low-income neighborhoods.

Though the higher numbers are disappointing, Kathy Nonas, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s director of physical activity and nutrition, suggests the numbers indicate the city’s childhood obesity rates are plateauing or even starting to decline. But she told The New York Times it would be “naïve” to think measures like banning trans fat in restaurants and posting calorie counts would be enough to put a crimp in the city’s obesity epidemic.

ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan weighs in: “Obesity is a complex problem that cannot be fixed by diet alone. Thus, measures like banning trans fat have nothing to do with fighting obesity since it will ultimately be replaced with a different kind of fat. This study reflects a need to raise economic health in disadvantaged neighborhoods to help reduce childhood obesity.”