New Haven is not healthy, according to a recent survey conducted by Yale researchers.
The results of a 2009 door-to-door survey conducted by the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement at Yale — which studied more than 1,200 New Haven residents in six neighborhoods — show that more than half of New Haven residents surveyed do not regularly exercise “vigorous[ly]” and drink “sugar-sweetened” beverages daily. Additionally, the rate of regular smoking among those surveyed — 31 percent — is 50 percent above the national average.
Yale School of Public Health professor Jeannette Ickovics, who directs the Yale initiative, and Chisara Asomugha, the city’s community services administrator, said the next step is for City Hall, Yale and community members to work together to fix the problems identified by the survey. Ickovics explained that her organization will work with the community to think of and implement new health policies, which could include offering incentives to stores to sell healthful options and making the city’s “green space” more accessible for exercising.
“Our goal is an ambitious one, though simply stated, to improve health in New Haven,” Ickovics said.
The survey was conducted by 32 people, most of whom were New Haven residents, who went door-to-door to randomly selected homes in the community, Ickovics said. The survey was conducted over a period of seven weeks.
The disheartening results of the survey are a “call to action” to improve health in the city, said Mubarakah Ibrahim, owner and head trainer of New Haven’s BALANCE fitness studio, located southwest of campus on Davenport Avenue.
Ward 22 Alderman Greg Morehead is already taking action, teaming up with Ibrahim, who runs a boot camp exercise program for women. Morehead said the survey’s results indicate that the city has a problem. But he said the city already has a number of resources to help citizens improve their nutrition, such as CitySeed, which coordinates farmer’s markets and promotes local sustainable food, but that many residents choose not to take advantage of these offerings.
Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield said he was not surprised by the results.
“You’d find the same results from any other city with any other population of poor people,” he said, adding that “poverty and all this kind of stuff goes together.”
Goldfield said one of the things New Haven needs to do to maintain healthy eating habits is find a replacement for the Shaw’s supermarket on Whalley Avenue. If the city loses the store, which is set to close in March unless a buyer is found, residents will lose a major point of access to more healthful eating, he said. (Meanwhile, developer Becker + Becker is negotiating with supermarkets aimed at moving into its new development at 360 State St.)
But bad habits are hard to break, said Ward 23 Alderman Yusuf Shah, whose ward includes one of the neighborhoods that was surveyed.
The Community Alliance for Research and Engagement was created in 2007 to publicize Yale research to the local community. The first of a series of forums in each of the six neighborhoods surveyed will take place tonight. The forums, intended to share the results of the survey, will continue through April.