Monday, June 8, 2009

Defeating the Health Crisis in NYC

New York City is in the midst of a health crisis, and that crisis, and entrepreneurs are launching a new service designed to fill the information gap that contributes to the crisis. Our city needs a place to turn to obtain the guidance our residents need to live longer and healthier lives.

Our Health Crisis

We wrote about our city's health crisis back in February 2009 as part of our discussion of Borough President Scott Stringer's thorough, innovative, and insightful report focused on the impact of food on the health of New York City residents.

As we stated in February, New York City is already suffering from poor health indicators and a lack of healthy food availability.

The rate of obesity and the rate of diabetes each increased 17% between 2002 and 2004 according to Stringer's Food Report. Manhattan Borough President Stringer's report also alerts us that, amazingly, most of New York City's adults are overweight or obese, and that a direct correlation has been demonstrated between the parts of New York City with the lowest levels of consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and the parts of our city that have the highest levels of obesity. Unfortunately, Upper Manhattan is near the top of the list of the areas affected by both the lack of consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and the abundance of obesity. As stated in the Borough President's report, one in six restaurants in Central Harlem and East Harlem serves fast food, while the number is only one in twenty-five restaurants on the Upper East Side. Upper Manhattan is in desperate need of greater availability of high quality fresh food, and our local Community Boards can use their land use approval authority to encourage such greater availability.

At the state level, the same lack of health creates budget pressures. New York State spends $6.1 billion on health care related to adult obesity - the 2nd highest level of spending in the nation. Obesity is a statewide epidemic with 56.7% of New York’s adults overweight or obese, and Obesity-attributable Medicaid expenditures in New York are $3.5 billion.

Knowledge Is Power

Today, R.E.A.L. Fitness & Nutrition ( is launching its information-rich services to help New Yorkers attack the health crisis we face and to help healthy New Yorkers find ways to be even healthier. R.E.A.L. comes from Relevant Experts and Access to Local information.

Amongst its initial offerings are R.E.A.L. Deals, which list special offers, promotions, and discounts from local and national fitness and nutrition companies; R.E.A.L. Events, which is an extensive list of fitness and nutrition activities such as outdoor bootcamp classes, running programs, and healthy cooking seminars; and R.E.A.L. Experts, which showcases some of the best coaches and counselors in New York City.

R.E.A.L. produces and distributes two weekly opt-in electronic newsletters that provide consumers with the most up-to-date local fitness and nutrition information, activities, and bargains.

At Manhattan Viewpoint, we have been impressed with R.E.A.L.'s vision and its experts. We have been so convinced of the need for such services in our community, that we recently made a small financial investment in R.E.A.L. and expect the portal and newsletters to change lives in our local community.

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