If New York is the city that never sleeps, then the Bronx is an insomniac that raids the refrigerator at midnight for a late-night snack.


Manhattan. Flickr.com/708718

When the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System analyzed data from 2003, they discovered that of NYC's six boroughs, the Bronx had the highest percentage of overweight and obese citizens at over 62 percent.

Stylish Manhattan on the other hand, sat at 42 percent--well under the state average of 60 percent. The other boroughs fell somewhere in between: Brooklyn 58.6 percent, Staten Island 57.7 percent, and Queens 57.6 percent.

While not surprised, obesity experts are using the information to highlight how urban planning can affect obesity rates. Epidemiologist, Andrew G. Rundle, tells the New York Times there are three issues which affect obesity rates at a neighborhood level:

How close a person is to:

* a market selling fresh produce
* Access to parks
* The use of public transportation

In other words, if you live in an urban setting and can walk to the store to buy fresh fruits and veggies at a fair and reasonable price, your risk of obesity goes down.

A friend recently returned from a year long internship in Helsinki and painted a Utopian picture: safe bike trails that criss-cross the city, making bicycle commuting a no-brainer; green areas of amazing natural beauty, accessible on foot or by bike from the city's center; public transportation (in the form of modern electronic trolleys) that citizens use instead of their own personal cars.

There's not enough stimulus money in the world to rework NYC, or other large metropolitan areas. But, it's clear that as we move forward we need to be thinking about the ways people go about their day-to-day lives, and how we can make it easier to build healthy living habits into everyday living.

Does your city make living a healthy lifestyle easier or harder?