The reservoir's historic structures & ecosystems are an opportunity to create a unique environmental education center for our children & their future.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cutting down forest won't help obesity

New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe has been quoted frequently as claiming that replacing the forests at Ridgewood Reservoir with recreational fields would help stop childhood obesity. Recent data indicates that, if practical, removing fast food restaurants instead of trees would be more effective. Some research has shown that diet plays a much greater role in reducing obesity and diabetes:

Study links easy access to fast food to diabetes, obesity

05:27 PM CDT on Tuesday, April 29, 2008
McClatchy Newspapers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – It's often said, "You are what you eat," but new research suggests that where you eat may have a lot to do with it, as well.

In communities with an abundance of fast-food outlets and convenience stores, researchers have found, obesity and diabetes rates are much higher than in areas where fresh fruit and vegetable markets and full-service grocery stores are easily accessible.

"The implications are really dramatic," said Harold Goldstein, a study author and executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, based in Davis. "We are living in a junk-food jungle, and not surprisingly, we are seeing rising rates of obesity and diabetes."

The new study builds on research released a year ago that found California has four times as many fast-food restaurants and convenience stores as grocery stores and produce vendors.

For the new project, Goldstein teamed with UCLA's Center for Public Health Policy Research and PolicyLink to explore possible links between the kinds of food Californians can easily access and the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in their communities.

The outcome: "We found a very strong link," Goldstein said. "It was true for people living in both high-income and low-income communities, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender or level of physical activity."

For the 2007 study, researchers used commercial data sources and geographic information system software to construct a "retail food environment index," or RFEI, by adding the number of convenience stores and fast-food outlets and dividing that sum by the number of supermarkets and produce vendors, including farmers markets.

The average RFEI for California adults is 4.5, meaning the average California adult has more than four times as many fast-food restaurants and convenience stores near their home as grocery stores and produce vendors.

Read the entire article here.

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