2007_5_health_bodega.jpgIn a real shocker, a City Health Department report released earlier this week shares that people living in Harlem have fewer healthy food options than their counterparts in other boroughs. The full report, available here, found that despite Harlem's many bodegas and corner stores, they were half as likely to carry low-fat dairy products and far less likely to offer as large a selection of vegetables as a grocery store on the Upper East Side.

And thanks to additional unhealthy findings, including the fact that Harlem has three times as many fast-food restaurants per person than in other parts of New York, a resident of Harlem is three times more likely to be diabetic or obese than your average Upper East Sider. As many as one third of the citizens of the borough also die from complications of diabetes or heart disease.

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In an effort to reduce these disparities in food consumption and their attendant ill-effects, the Health Department has organized The Harlem Food and Fitness Consortium, a group of community partners who will work as healthy policy advocates. Some other key findings from the report include:

  • In East and Central Harlem, bodegas or corner stores are twice as common as on the Upper East Side (66% vs. 33% of surveyed food stores). Supermarkets, which offer more healthy food choices, are much more common on the Upper East Side.
  • Harlem bodegas are about half as likely as those on the Upper East Side to sell low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt and cottage cheese). Only 3% of corner stores in Harlem sell leafy green vegetables compared to 20% on the Upper East Side.
  • One in six restaurants (16%) in East and Central Harlem is a fast-food restaurant compared to 4% on the Upper East Side.

For more information on eating healthy, check out the Department of Health page.