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Fat City

People in Williamsburg and Bushwick are, on average, more overweight and more obese than the citywide population. This has resulted in much snark on the interweb about skinny hipsters, but the problem is real, and likely tied in to the socioeconomic realities of our neighborhoods.

The report, “Keeping Track of New York City’s Children”, was prepared by the Citizen’s Committee for Children (an executive summary (pdf) is here). The picture it paints for north Brooklyn is not pretty – in just about every measure, our community districts come out in the bottom quartile. This is particularly true of the districts that comprise Bushwick and Bed-Stuy; Williamsurg and Greenpoint proper fare slightly better.

At least some of the blame lies with economics. According to, the median income the five north Brooklyn zip codes is barely half that of the comparable New York City figure. In order from low to high, the median household incomes (2005) are:

  • 11206 (East Williamsburg and Bed-Stuy): $21,679
  • 11221 (Bushwick and Bed-Stuy): $25,912
  • 11237 (Bushwick): $26,840
  • 11211 (Northside and Southside, some areas east of the BQE): $27,378
  • 11222 (Greenpoint): $39,0081
  • Kings County: $37,332
  • NYC (all boroughs): $43,434

Those bottom three zip codes roughly correspond to the Bed-Stuy and Bushwick community districts tracked by CCC (its not a direct correlation, though). In the CCC study, these districts consistently fall in the lowest quartile for all measures of children’s health. Overall, the children in these districts are at the highest risk to their well being.

  • 44% to 58% of children live below the poverty line
  • 13% to 16% of adults have diabetes
  • 22% to 26% of adults had no fruits or vegetables in the previous day
  • 26% to 30% of adults are obese

As noted, Williamsburg (north) and Greenpoint fare slightly better. In terms of obesity, these northern community districts fall into the third quartile, at 22% to 26%. In the other measures noted above, these districts also generally fall into the third quartile.

All of north Brooklyn (all five zip codes) fall into the fourth quartile in terms of number of grocery stores and supermarkets per square mile.

Given all this, its no wonder that north Brooklyn has such high levels of obesity.

1. The difference between Greenpoint’s median income and the rest of north Brooklyn is striking.

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