By Amanda Li, B.A., Junior Policy Associate
An annual telephone survey administered statewide by the New York State Department of Health showed the following key findings:
- 25% of adults in the state are obese.
- An additional 34.5% of the state’s adults are overweight.
- Obesity rates are the highest among adults who are black (30.9%), Hispanic (29.3%), earn household income below $50,000 a year (28.9%), do not have a college degree (28.6%), have a disability (37.2%), and who live outside of the city (26.9%).
This survey is conducted under the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which helps gather data on the risk factors, behaviors, and use of prevention-based services associated with the major causes of disease, injury, disability and death across the adult civilian population. Unfortunately, obesity is now ranked as the #2 cause of preventable mortality in America, just barely behind tobacco. This is because obesity is associated with life-threatening conditions like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancers, stroke, and arthritis.
Recognizing the strong association between obesity and chronic diseases, New York State’s Prevention Agenda 2013-2018 has made reducing obesity in both adults and children a priority. One goal the state hopes to achieve is to “Create community environments that promote and support healthy food and beverage choices and physical activity.”
DASH-NY hopes to leverage its 2017 policy priorities to help achieve this goal by:
- Increasing access to healthy food for all through the investment of $15 million in the Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund and $3 million in the Healthy Corner Store Initiative.
- Supporting “Safe Routes to All” by creating policies and funding opportunities that promote safe, accessible routes to valuable community resources.
- Promoting policies mandating that food and beverages bought using government funds meet nutrition standards.
- Advocating for the shared use of school facilities.
Additionally, the Advancing Prevention Project also aims to achieve this goal by:
- Organizing a Breastfeeding Community of Practice for Local Health Departments.
- Hosting a Learning Collaborative around using place-based approaches to reduce health disparities.
- Assisting Local Health Departments in developing more effective health communication strategies.
According to the New York State Prevention Agenda Dashboard and BRFSS survey data, we have not yet met any of our 2018 Prevention Agenda goals around reducing obesity. However, let’s use this data as motivation to continue pushing the needle on reducing obesity in New York State.