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Obesity issues in South Bronx, New York

Obesityissues in South Bronx, New York

Obesityin America is becoming a social problem as statistics show that it isaffecting a third of the population. However, the problem is farworse in South Bronx, New York. Bronx County is well-known due to itsfascinating culture and several attractions such as museums, beaches,and the Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, South Bronx is also a regionwhere 85 percent of the residents have a higher risk of being obeseas compared to those living in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan(Moss).Studies have been conducted to evaluate the quality of life, medicalcare, social, and economic factors that affect health in countiesacross the United States. Accordingly, Bronx has been ranked theleast healthy among the 62 counties in New York for the past sixyears (The New York Community Trust). The obesity problems affect allage-groups in the regions, but it is more severe among adults.Obesity in South Bronx is caused by lack of physical activities,scarcity of healthy food options, and high poverty levels, which hasincreased vulnerability to weight-related health problems, but thelocal government has enacted health programs to deal with overweightproblems.


SouthBronx has a scarcity of healthy option in the low-incomeneighborhoods. A study carried out in 2008 showed that Bronx Countyhad very few supermarkets that have forced most of the residents torely mainly on cheap, unhealthy food. For example, fairly pricedsupermarkets are rare in these areas. Most of the stores sell moreprocessed foods than the seasonal vegetables and fruits (Lestch).On the other hand, poverty has been linked to poor eating habits inthe South Bronx. Poor people tend to work for long hours to getenough money to cater for their necessities. Therefore, the residentsalways have minimal time to eat thus, they do not consider thenutritious aspect of food because most of them are mainly interestedon the price (Bogart 211).

Thenagain, the unemployment rate in the county is at 14.1 percent, whichis the highest in New York. Therefore, the residents lack jobsecurity and economic opportunities that can enable them to maintainhealthy lifestyles. In the poor neighborhoods, the communities aremore worried about securing enough food. For example, a bag of chipscosts much less than nutritious fruits and vegetables. Likewise, abottle of water is sold at $2 while soda costs 75 cents (Lestch).Therefore, even those people who are willing to have healthy eatinghabits lack the proper food they need within their tight budgets.Moreover, the region has many fast food restaurants, which makeunhealthy meals easily accessible to the residents. For example,there are 44 McDonald’s, 55 subway restaurants, and 68 DunkinDonuts (Lestch).These businesses are constantly expanding and opening new stores totake advantage of the lucrative opportunities, which show that BronxCounty is going in the wrong direction regarding healthy lifestyles.

Lackof physical exercises has also contributed to the obesity problem inSouth Bronx. The technological innovations have created conditionsthat promote unhealthy lifestyles. There is an increase in processedfoods, which contains high concentrations of fat, sugar, and salt. Onthe other hand, technology has enabled people to work at home, whichhas raised reduced physical activities. For example, most jobs todayrequire moderate physical activity thus, a majority of workers spendmost of their time sitting. Similarly, the children spend most of thetime watching television or playing video games, which reduce thetime they have left to engage in physical activities. The childrenalso do not have space to play because the classrooms mainly take upBronx’s school yards (Moss).The lack of enough physical education teachers and time for allstudents make it hard for them to engage in extra-curricularactivities and regular exercises. Additionally, the residents do notmaintain regular medical checkup schedules (Colgrove 249). Thepoverty level in South Bronx is at 40 percent hence, most people arebusy working and supporting their families. These individuals rarelyhave time to visit the hospitals. Therefore, when they have a medicalcondition, the disease is never detected until it is too late.


Asa result, the death rates are much higher due to health problems thatare linked to overweight such as diabetes and heart conditions(Colgrove 249). For example, South Bronx is one of the regions withthe highest rate of diabetes in New York City. Asthma rates are alsohigh in South Bronx, particularly in neighborhoods of Mott Haven,Hunts Point, and Morrisania, which worsens the problem of obesity.The health issues associated with obesity make it even harder forpeople to get jobs, participate in cultural or social activities, andraise their children. Additionally, the thousands of children andadults have their prospects diminished by diseases linked to beingoverweight since it disrupts their school and work patterns.Therefore, obesity has become a costly problem for the state’sMedicaid Program. The residents have severe health conditions whichrequire regular medical attention thus, using a large portion of thesocial welfare funds.


Thelocal administration acknowledges that the county is having severeweight problems. Hence, they are dealing with the problem byproviding income support for the poor neighborhoods to have regularaccess to food. The county is also increasing the nutritious optionswhere people can choose to maintain healthy eating patterns becausethey will be readily available. They are also conducting campaigns toencourage healthy eating behaviors. Some of the residents lack theproper guidance on how to maintain healthy weight levels hence,giving them the information they need is critical in ensuring thatthey make the right meal choices. For example, the residents aregiven financial initiatives so that they can spend their food stampsto buy healthy food alternatives such as fresh fruits and vegetables(Moss).The local government funds green carts to sell fresh produce to thepoor neighborhoods. For the past eight years, the local government inpartnership with the Health Department financed 500 green carts and1,300 vending machines. The grocery stores are also encouraged tosell healthier products by offering them tax credits. In the past,the Health Department proposed a plan to reduce the size of sugary,unhealthy drinks in larger markets, but the court stopped the plan(Bogart 171). Even so, it continues to pursue this program becausetheir studies have shown that the residents are consumingsugar-sweetened beverages at a very high level.

TheNew York community Trust also launched the Healthy and LivableNeighborhoods Program to improve the quality of life in SouthBronx. The plan acknowledges that there is a need to go beyond justproviding medical care. Thus, it seeks to improve the mental,physical, and social well-being of the residents by strengthening thecapability of institutions, groups, and families to help them play apart in community health. The program expanded the availability ofaffordable, fresh, and healthy food. Moreover, it improves the incomeand job security for families and individuals. Lastly, the programassists in developing healthy indoor and outdoor environments byhelping schools develop health and wellness activities. It also usesart and culture to persuade the residents to adopt healthy lifestylesand support their efforts (The New York Community Trust).

TheBronx’s politicians and health care organizations formed apartnership to reduce the obesity-related health issues in theregion. The state proposed efforts to offer more resources forpreventive care to the Medicaid recipients. For instance, thecommunity health centers were given more doctors, primary careproviders, and nurse practitioners. Thus, the residents will not needto make unnecessary trips to the hospital for regular checkups. TheHealth Department is also paying much attention to obesity problemsamong children. The prevention strategies aim to promote a healthylifestyle at a young age and hopefully assume that they will maintainthe habits even in adulthood (The New York Community Trust).

Inconclusion, South Bronx is ranked one of the unhealthiest regions inNew York due to the high obesity levels. Unhealthy eating habits havebeen associated with weight problems because the residents consume alot of junk food and sugary drinks. These foods are very cheap andreadily available in the area due to the many restaurants. Theresidents rarely engage in physical activities that worsen theirhealth. Hence, it has resulted in high death rate in the county.Besides, the residents are more vulnerable to weight-relateddiseases. Nonetheless, the local administration has partnered withthe Health Department to promote healthy communities. They offerincentives for food stores to sell fresh fruits and vegetables.Additionally, the people are offered financial motivations topurchase healthy food. With more collaboration, the government, localcommunities, and health departments might reduce the obesity rates inSouth Bronx.


Bogart,W. A. RegulatingObesity: Government, Society, and Questions of Health.New York, 2013. Print.

Colgrove,James K. EpidemicCity: The Politics of Public Health in New York.New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2011. Print.

Lestch,Corinne. TheBronx tips the scale as the fastest-growing fast food&nbsplocale inthe city with more McDonalds, Subway chains. NewYork Daily News,20 Dec. 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2016.

Moss,Jordan.ExercisePush Amid Obesity Crisis in Bronx. Citylimits,2 Oct. 2013.Web. 26 Nov. 2016.

TheNew York Community Trust. SouthBronx Healthy and Livable Neighborhoods.21 July 2014. Web.26 Nov. 2016.