Bronx named unhealthiest county in New York

February 18, 2010 2:57:39 PM PST
The list of the healthiest cities is out, and for New Yorkers, it's not good news. The unhealthiest county in the state is the Bronx. And not far ahead is Brooklyn. The difference between healthy and unhealthy is the rate of poverty and access to nutritious food, exercise and medical care.

Health issues place the people of the Bronx at the greatest risk.

"Diabetes, asthma and obesity are at epidemic proportions," said Dr. Gurkan Taviloglu, president of the Bronx Medical Society.

And a recent study found that Bronx County ranks last when it comes to life expectancy and health issues.

Health officials point out that 60 to 70 percent of the people here are overweight, obese or morbidly obese. Low income and too much fast food plays a factor.

"When they go to the supermarket, they may not find as many healthy choices as in other counties or other cities," Dr. Taviloglu said. "And that's another problem. The eating habits, too, and lack of exercise. It's a big problem."

The lack of adequate and affordable health care is seen by doctors as another serious issue contributing to the county's last-place ranking.

Coupled with these concerns, there is also an ongoing to effort to improve the health of Bronx residents, starting at the table.

"We've been working to create a healthier environment by increasing access to healthy food, fruits and vegetables," said Carolyn Olson, acting assistant commissioner of epidemiology services. "One is the healthy bodegas initiative."

Along with healthy eating, there are programs promoting exercise, improving health care, raising healthy children and reducing tobacco use.

They are showing improvement. City health officials point out tobacco use in the Bronx has dropped 35 percent in adults and 55 percent in teenagers.

"Over time, these improvements in the factors that determine health will ultimately effect those health outcomes," Olson said.

Leading, they hope, to a greater number of healthy people.


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