Like many Americans, like many people in all rich nations, New Yorkers somehow still have a lot of be depressed about. And they are getting obese. And not sleeping enough. In 2006, New York declared if they just banned trans fats, diabetes would go down, but rates actually went up, and outside the wealthy white demographic it has remained high.
Yet New Yorkers think they are healthy.
New analyses based on physical examinations, laboratory testing, and interviews with more than 1,500 residents -- a sample population picked to represent every adult, gender, and race in the city's five boroughs - in 2004 and then again between 2013 and 2014 to match a similarly named federal health investigation carried out annually nationwide, found that blood cholesterol, sugar levels, diet, weight, as well as mental health and chronic diseases are all worrisome trends in the Big Apple.
The NYC Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HANES) findings from 2004 and 2014 show:
1) The number of New Yorkers who were obese (having a body mass index greater than 30) increased from 27 percent to 32 percent and were mostly men. Blacks had the highest rate of obesity (37 percent), and Asians experienced the largest increase in obesity (from 20 percent to 29 percent).
2) While the rise in obesity levels in NYC was less severe than observed in national trends, there were some groups who had greater increases than others, including those who had no more than a high-school education, lacked health insurance, or were immigrants.
3) According to one of the studies' authors, Pasquale Rummo, PhD, the local weight gain coincided with an average city-wide increase in ordering takeout or eating out instead of cooking at home, which rose from 2.7 meals per week to 3.8 meals per week.
4) Overall, women had lower rates of risk factors for heart disease than men, with lower rates of hypertension (at 35 percent and 41 percent), fewer smoking (at 16 percent and 20 percent), and more women are eating healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables (at 6 percent) than men (at 3 percent), as recommended in national guidelines. Men, however, were more physically active than women (at 35 percent and 25 percent).
5) White women have better heart health than other women and men of all races. Black women, however, fared the worst among all adults, having a 20 percent greater likelihood than white men of being overweight or obese.
6) New Yorkers' amount of physical exercise has not changed in the past decade, but those who report spending more than three hours per day watching television or videos online rose by 32 percent.
7) Forty-one percent of New Yorkers report problems with sleep, for which deficits have been closely tied to higher risks of infection and higher rates of disease. Bisexual New Yorkers were 40 percent more likely to report greater difficulty sleeping than their straight counterparts. Researchers say the disparity may be linked to social stigma, prejudice, and stress related to minority group status.
8) More than one-half million New Yorkers (8.3 percent) have symptoms of depression, with the highest rates of depression among women and Latinos. Depression is closely tied to substance use and risk behaviors for disease, such as physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet. Most people who experience depression are not receiving mental health counseling or taking medications to treat their depression.
9) Diabetes rates in NYC remain high, with 2013 and 2014 data demonstrating a twofold disparity between whites and other groups. Diabetes rates in the city have increased moderately from 13 percent to 16 percent, with the highest proportion among Asians (24 percent) and the lowest among whites (7 percent).
There is some good news. Blood levels of lead and mercury have gone down, though the benefit is unclear. The mercury scare was fabricated by Natural Resources Defense Council PR firm Fenton Communications while activists have translated 'no safe level of lead' to mean 'any lead is unsafe', which has put consumers on edge.