- The town of Huntington, NY has been "put on a diet" to curb weight gain amid the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to David Buchin, an obesity specialist and director of bariatric surgery at Northwell Health-Huntington Hospital.
- The voluntary diet plan is designed to tackle the "quarantine 15," which refers to the weight gain that residents town may have experienced amid stay-at-home orders and decreases in physical activity. The 200,000-person town is reportedly America's first to go on a diet during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- The diet plan is intended to raise awareness and inspire other cities to do the same, as obesity is a major risk factor for the coronavirus, Buchin told Smart Cities Dive. People with obesity and underlying health conditions are "so much harder hit" by the coronavirus, he said.
As part of the initiative, residents will be provided with suggestions for healthy meal plans; tips for creating healthy grocery shopping lists; and access to at least two Facebook live events where they can ask Buchin questions in real-time. The initiative will also partner with local merchants including a fitness center.
"Over the last seven weeks, what I’ve noticed is that people have just been gaining ridiculous amounts of weight because of fear [and] because of boredom," Buchin said. People have been turning to comfort foods and Netflix, but now that more areas are discussing reopening, there’s a hope of getting back to normalcy, according to Buchin.
"This is one way to try and get back to normalcy and try to get people fit and more healthy," he said.
Access to healthy foods has been an obstacle for some city residents during the pandemic. In Brooklyn, a New York borough that also put its residents on a diet plan over a decade ago, residents have organized to help deliver subsidized groceries to vulnerable groups. The group of over 400 volunteers has delivered supplies and groceries to about 3,000 Brooklyn households, as of April 29.
And in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently announced the creation of an Equity Rapid Response Team. The group can help tackle food insecurity in parts of the city considered "food deserts," or areas where low-income residents have to travel over a mile to reach a full-service grocery store, Block Club Chicago reports.
The creation of the task force also comes as Chicago confronts a major racial disparity in the health of its residents during the coronavirus, with over 70% of Black Chicagoans accounting for the city’s coronavirus deaths despite Black residents making up only 30% of the population.
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