New Yorkers Are Smoking Less, Drinking More, Getting Fat. Just Like the Rest of America!


Brace yourselves. Scientific American has just released statistics— broken down state by state—on the health-related behaviors of Americans over the last fifteen years and it appears that our fellow citizens like to drink heavily and eat a lot. Try not to be too surprised with that information, I know it’s startling. Where does New York stack up against the rest of the country? Well, for the most part, we fall right in the middle. Which is sad, really, because I like to think of us as a place of extremes.

The study tracked five behavioral patterns over the course of fifteen years (1995-2010) to determine what kind of shape our country is in, health-wise. The behaviors tracked were: Heavy Drinking (defined as more than 2 drinks per day for men, more than 1 per day for women); Binge Drinking (five or more drinks on one occasion for me, four or more for women); Tobacco Use (current smokers); Obesity (BMI of 30 or more); and Exercise (participated in a physical activity during the past month.)

So, what did the survey say? Well, it was a mixed bag. It was like that bag was mixed with compost cookies and crack pie and, like, one solitary apple or something. What I’m saying is, there’s not a whole lot of healthy behaviors going on. The good news is that tobacco use is steadily declining in every state except Oklahoma and West Virginia. The percentage of smokers in New York has fallen from 21.5% to 15.5%, which is below the national average of 17.3%, although nowhere near the state with the lowest percentage of smokers, Utah (9.1%) Of course, they’re mostly Mormons over in Utah, so they don’t even drink coffee or alcohol, so why WOULD they ever smoke? I guess that’s living. I guess.

Also, somewhat good news is that more people are exercising! Although considering that the threshold for “exercise” is “participated in a physical activity during the past month,” we maybe shouldn’t be so quick to celebrate. Especially if celebrating means eating even more food. Because, despite all this “exercise” we’re purportedly doing, we—as a nation and as New Yorkers—are getting more and more obese. Wait, what?

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