Steinhardt Researchers Discover that in Fight Against Obesity, Location and Gender Matter

A recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology by Steinhardt alumna Jennifer Black (PhD ’08), an assistant professor at the University British Colombia, and James Macinko, associate professor in Steinhardt’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, assessed obesity trends in New York City’s neighborhoods since 2003. The study reveals that in New York City, obesity risk grew by 1.6% each year to 22% in 2007, however these changes differed dramatically between neighborhoods and gender.

Black and Macinko used Health Department data on 48,000 New York City residents and found that women’s risk of obesity rose more than that of men. Neighborhood features such as area income and availability of local food and fitness amenities were associated with a 7% and 11% reduced risk of obesity, respectively. In more affluent areas like the Upper East Side, Chelsea and the West Village, obesity remained steady at 8%, while by 2007 seven neighborhoods in East Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island had an obesity rate higher than 30%.

Click to view graphic: Web Figure 1: Changes in Obesity Prevalence by Neighborhood in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007

Read about Obesity Hits New York’s poor neighborhoods hardest in Reuters Heath (March 2, 2010).

Jennifer Black (PhD ‘ 08), and is an assistant Professor of Nutrition, Food, and Health at the University of British Colombia.

James Macinko is an associate professor of public health and health policy at NYU Steinhardt and Wagner and director of NYU’s Master’s Program in Global Public Health.