American Indian Children Hit Hard by Obesity...

A new study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine claims 1 in 5 Native American preschoolers are obese. Children were considered obese if their body-mass index (BMI) placed them in the 95th percentile or higher on government growth charts. Of the 8,550 participants the rate of obesity among Asians was 13%, whites 16%, blacks 21%, Hispanics 22% and a startling 31% for American Indian children. Researchers cite possible genetic disparities as reason why, but also blame lifestyle issues such as low-income status; the Associated Press reports.

Makes sense, a recent report linked childhood poverty with an 82% higher risk of cardiovascular problems later in life and in February, researchers determined 89% of American preschoolers are not active enough. Not a good combination, especially when you consider weight gain in very young children increases their chances of becoming obese as they mature. Add all that up and you’re in a lot of trouble, no matter what race you are.

Occupation doesn't seem to matter either. Many emergency responder recruits, like ambulance drivers and firemen, are overweight and unable to meet national fitness standards. Even U.S. combat troops in Iraq are getting fat! I still can't believe that.

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Healthy Foods Hard to Find in Poor Neighborhoods

According to a new study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition retailers in low income communities are less likely to sell healthy food, such fruits and vegetables. Stores in wealthier areas tend to offer healthier fare. Researchers examined survey data from 759 Baltimore, Maryland residents and discovered 24% of blacks lived in neighborhoods with limited access to healthy food, compared to only 5% of whites. Experts propose offering tax breaks to stores in poorer areas for selling healthier food or distributing cash subsides so residents can buy fruits and veggies; HealthDay News reports.

Sadly, this predicament is very common. More and more supermarkets are moving out of New York City, leaving low income residents with small bodegas and drugs stores mostly selling junk food and few, if any, fresh fruits and vegetables. To make matters worse, many of these neighborhoods are already wrought with fast food, deepening local epidemics of heart disease and diabetes.

In related news, people living in communities with a lot of fast food restaurants were found to have an increased risk of stroke. Overall likelihood was 13% higher and increased 1% per restaurant.

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Veggies Scarce in Poor Communities

A new analysis of 54 studies in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reveals America’s poorer neighborhoods have fewer supermarkets selling a variety of healthy foods at cheaper prices and more convenience stores that sell less fresh food at higher prices. Minorities and low-income individuals living near supermarkets consumed more fruits and vegetables, in some areas consumption rose by 32%. Poorer communities are also more likely to have more fast food restaurants; Reuters reports.

In New York City, supermarkets are leaving low-income communities, making it harder for residents to find fresh food. Officials claim 3 million people live in high-need neighborhoods, classified as having too many health problems and too few supermarkets. Lack of healthy food and the glut of fast food joints are fueling alarming rates of diabetes and obesity in poorer communities.

But some people are taking a stand. Los Angeles city officials want a moratorium on new fast food restaurants and other L.A. residents are turning empty lots into vibrant vegetable gardens. Awesome!

Image credit: YOUneak