The Census Bureau counted 1.38 million people living in the Bronx during 2010. It has increased by 3.9% from 2000. Looking at the rate of population increase I noticed that an average of 3 to 3.5% of the population grows every 10 years. By 2020 the population of the Bronx will be around 1.43 million. And who knows the actual number. However, that is not the only thing increasing. In New York City the rate of people with diabetes have increased by 2 and a haft times between 1994 to 2003. Diabetes is closely related to obesity which is a growing epidemic in the Bronx, NYC and US.
”The prevalence of obesity among U.S. children has more than tripled since the mid-1960s; two-thirds of U.S. adults are now obese or overweight. This national epidemic has not spared New York City and its neighborhoods. Among children attending Head Start, the prevalence of obesity is similar in the South Bronx (31%), the Bronx overall (30%), and the city as a whole (27%). Among public elementary school children, the obesity rate is 24% in both the South Bronx and New York City, while the rate is somewhat higher in the Bronx overall (32%). Among adolescents and adults aged 45 to 64, the prevalence of obesity is greater in the South Bronx than in New York City overall: 17% vs. 12% in public high school students and 39% vs. 26% in persons aged 45 to 64.”-
While population increases and unhealthy people increases, I see a growing need for urban planners to design communities which will promote healthy habits and healthy relationships among residents living in under-served communities. It needs to be a local initiative to create healthy people and beautiful communities. A great example of this is the Sustainable South Bronx program.
What they are about:
“Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) works with the South Bronx and under-served urban communities as they transform themselves into great sustainable places to live. We do this by providing a collaborative model that addresses environmental, economic and social concerns through green job training and community greening programs, and environmental education.”-
We are all trying to live better lives. Yet, our problems are great but I know that it take a commUnity to raise a child and so it will take communities to solves our problems. It will be on a local level! My part will be to address the concern for food justice by teaching communities how to grow healthy food and how to prepare healthy meals. However, it will not stop there. I am a dynamic being with a vision to thrive and shine my light to others trying to shine as well. I am the commUnity!
“Many factors contribute to weight gain and diet-related illnesses. An abundance of heavily-marketed, high-calorie foods with low nutritional value (common in underserved areas) and fewer opportunities for physical activity contribute to overweight and obesity. Over the past 30 years, Americans’ caloric intake has increased by 200 to 300 calories per day, with the largest single increase due to sugary drinks. Nearly half of the added sugar we consume is now from sugar-sweetened drinks. Consuming sugary drinks is directly related to weight gain and obesity.”-
Growing up in the Bronx, you cannot avoid the physical and mental malnutrition that many urban communities experience. At its worst, from the graffiti on building walls, to the crack vials in front of building doorways, the Bronx can be both a physical and mental concrete jungle that is surrounded by cars, brick buildings, concrete floors, parks that are made up of metal bars and rubber floors and, once in a while you may see a small tree tied down and enclosed by masonry blocks in the ground.
As a Bronx native, simply by walking along my daily routes, I have witnessed corner drug dealers glorified as famous Hollywood stars, while physical and mental abuse appeared as if they were like public service commercials advertised on television. Though all these experiences can discourage young individuals from changing their realities or, finding a sense of positive responsibility; some do actually make that change and furthermore, help to inspire their community to take an initiative for social empowerment.
Although I grew up with some of the darkness within my reality, I also grew up with the belief to live a better life. This deep feeling was my light waiting to be embraced and shared. During my last visit back to the Bronx I noticed the same patterns that continue to propagate the experiences that many residents have endured. As I further investigate the realities experienced in a low-income urban community, I find that the physical and mental barriers are mirrored in my mind and heart; therefore making it imperative for me to help the community I grew up in and other communities alike. My goal for this social action is to create local food systems that will help heal Bronx urban residents: physically, emotionally and mentally. Through this action I will also secure access to nutritionally healthy foods, cycle wealth back into our local economy, create new jobs and, unite communities by making positive connections with naturally grown foods, the environment and people. Finally, through a holistic approach, I would also like to beautify the Bronx in efforts to heal the hearts, minds and bodies of those that live, and will live, there for the future to come.
Here is a great article on the health of Bronx residents and food security.
Titled, “The Obesity-Hunger Paradox.”