SUNY Cortland Obesity in New York: Upstate Counties vs. Metropolitan Shannon OBrien 2012
Obesity is a growing disease not only for the United States, but also for the world. Since this issuch a widely discussed topic, only the comparison between Upstate New York and the Metropolitanarea will be discussed. One of the biggest differences between these two areas that take part in the ratesof obesity is the economic status of the surrounding populations. In general, those that live in UpstateNew York have a lower annual income which correlates to a high rate of obesity. The Metropolitan areagenerally has a higher annual income which correlates to a lower rate of obesity. In Upstate New York, the three counties with the highest rate of obesity are Lewis, Jeffersonand St. Lawrence. These three counties are neighboring counties with median annual incomes of$43,607, $44,908, and $41,203 respectively (Sperlings Best Places, 2010). With these low annualincomes comes a high obesity rate of 67.6%, 67.7%, 67.7% respectively (New Yorks Fattest Counties,2009). On the other side of the economic status are the counties in the Metropolitan area. These threecounties, New York, Westchester, and Suffolk, have the highest median annual income of $67,161,$80,980, and $85,263 respectively (Sperlings Best Places, 2010). Opposite of Upstate counties, withthese high income rates come a low obesity rate of 42.3%, 53.6%, and 57.0% respectively (New YorksFattest Counties, 2009). Upstate New York has continuingly become overweight or obese. From 2003 to 2007 theUpstate counties had a 15% increase in their population’s obesity rates. With this increase, 27.5% of thepopulation is obese (Excellus, 2009). Since this increase has occurred it has also increased the amountof money the insurance companies have to pay towards medical bills. In the fall of 2009, ExcellusBlueCross BlueShield shared that they had spent $1.5 billion on medical bills for the Upstate countiesin New York. When this was averaged out it was estimated that the cost of insurance was $392 perresident. The majority of this insurance increase was coming from the population that earned between15k and 25k annually. The percent obese in this income bracket is 70.5% (Excellus, 2009).
With the location and annual income in mind, there are other reasons that these statistics maystand. For those in Upstate New York with the lower annual income, it is more difficult for families toeat a healthy diet. Health foods are much more expensive than those that are processed and placed onshelves. The people in Upstate New York don’t have as easy of an access to fresh fruits or lean meatand so must eat what food is available, those high in sodium, cholesterol and fats. Another factor thatbecomes a disadvantage to those living in these counties is that with the miles between one place andanother, they don’t have many choices in transportation other than by vehicle. This is a disadvantagebecause it gives these counties more of a sedentary life style. With an unhealthy diet and sedentarylifestyle, overweight and obesity rates start to rise. For those in the Metropolitan area it is a little different. Since these counties have a higherannual income they are able to have the opportunity to purchase and eat healthy foods. They have moreaccess to fresh fruits and vegetables and also have a greater chance of finding lean meat. This cut downin processed foods cuts a larger portion of fats from their daily diets. The other benefit is their location.Since the Metropolitan area is located in the city, the distance between two places is much closer andgives this population the opportunity to walk to their destinations. This is an advantage because thisleads to a more active life style. With the healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle, it is easier forthese counties to keep their overweight and obese rates down. Concluding this research, it is easy to see why the population in Upstate New York has a higheroverweight and obesity rate than those in the Metropolitan area. Because of the income difference andgeological position, there are many differences between these two parts of New York. The Upstatecounties with low income have the higher obesity rates because of their disadvantages. With a lowannual income and a necessity to drive as a means of transportation it leaves these counties eatingunhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles. On the other hand the Metropolitan area has the oppositeconditions and therefore has the advantages. With the higher annual income this area has the lowestoverweight and obesity rates because of their advantages. Some of these advantages include the higher
income allowing them to purchase healthier foods with lower fat contents. They are also close enoughin distance that they have the option to walk from one destination to the next and having an activelifestyle, leaving the area with a lower obesity rate.
Works CitedAll Over Albany (2009).Rates of overweight/obese in New York State by county [Image]. Retrieved February, 14, 2012 from http:// alloveralbany.comExcellus. (2009). The Facts About. Retrieved February 13, 2012, from http://www.whec.com/whecimages/obesity_2009.pdfFind The Data. (2012). Westchester County, New York Obesity Rates and Fast Food Consumption. Retrieved February 13, 2012, from http://county-food.findthedata.org/l/1885/WestchesterSperlings Best Places.(2010). New York Counties. Retrieved February 14, 2012, from http://www.bestplaces.net/find/county.aspx?st=NY