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Health study: New York among skinniest states

A student purchases a brown sugar Pop-Tart from

A student purchases a brown sugar Pop-Tart from a vending machine in the hallway outside the school cafeteria, in Wichita, Kan. Credit: AP, 2006

New York is in better shape then most states — when it comes to staying skinny, at least, a health study released Monday said.

The Empire State’s average Body Mass Index — a measure of body fat — is 24.5 percent, the seventh lowest in the nation, according to a report by the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health.

The figures for 2011, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show that more than a third of adults nationwide were obese. In 12 states, at least 30 percent were obese. Colorado was lowest, at just under 21 percent, and Mississippi highest, at nearly 35 percent. New York tied with Connecticut and Nevada at 42nd in the ranking.

The results were based on a telephone survey that asked adults their height and weight. For the first time, households with only cellphones were included.

Although the study didn’t list why so many New Yorkers were on the thinner side, another study released gave some insight into how government intervention helps kids’ eating habits.

An article published in the medical journal Pediatrics found that students in states that had strong anti-obesity laws in public schools had lost more weight than their peers in states with weak anti-obesity laws.

Dr. Daniel Taber, the lead author of the study, he could not say whether New York was one of the 40 states included in the study, but noted that the Big Apple’s nutrition-based laws, such as the trans fat ban, are some of the strongest in the nation and contribute to healthier lifestyles.

“I admire the mayor and city for tackling obesity,” he said.
During the last couple of years, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city’s Department of Health have made changes to school meals such as requiring that all milk be fat free and restricting sugary drinks and foods.

The mayor’s office, which plans to expand its school cafeteria salad bar program to all public schools, applauded the Pediatrics study’s recommendation for more health-friendly laws.

“New York City knows firsthand that curbing kids’ access to junk calories results in health gains,” a spokeswoman for the mayor said in a statement.

Obesity experts who praised the study acknowledge that the measures are a political hot potato, opposed by industry and cash-strapped schools relying on food processors’ money.

But if the laws have even a tiny effect, “what are the downsides of improving the food environment for children today?” asked Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. “You can’t get much worse than it already is.”

With AP

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