The East Harlem neighborhood in New York City has some of the highest obesity and diabetes rates in the country. The asthma rates are worse than those in some developing countries, according to a Reuters article.
A community initiative - Go Green East Harlem - hopes to draw attention to these issues and promote a healthier lifestyle for its citizens. The initiative has ongoing projects, such as planting trees, adding access to farmer's markets, building green roofs on schools near high-congestion areas, and constructing a $3.5-million asthma center.
The initiative also has a Go Green East Harlem cookbook full of suggestions for healthy eating and living from community leaders and businesspeople. Recipes include quinoa banana muffins, sweet potatolicious, with sweet potatoes and pineapple, collard greens, and a lemon chicken recipe from the famous Italian restaurant Rao's.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer contributed tips on selecting healthy takeout.
The article points out that health problems associated with inner-city living are not unique to East Harlem. For example, the article cites research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that found more of the restaurants in inner-city neighborhoods, and urban neighborhoods with a high minority population, serve fast food than those in richer areas of the city.
Dr. Richard Glazier, who works with the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada, conducted research that showed that the city's poorest neighborhoods, the ones most lacking services, had the highest diabetes rates.
He said in the article that his research shows that where a person lives can affect their health and that blaming only a person's lifestyle choices for their health isn't effective.
What is evident is that resources are needed in these lower income communities: better public transportation, mixed residential and retail development, more access to fresh fruits and vegetables, safer neighborhoods for walking, improved health care access and increased rates of disease screening, particularly among minority populations.
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