In the past few years, there has been an increase in obesity in the United States. The United States has the highest rate of obesity. More than one-third of U.S. adults and approximately 17% children and adolescents ages 2-19 years old are obese (CDC). Schools all over the nation are trying to educate their students on the importance of their health. In my high school, it was mandatory in order to graduate to take a health course where they discussed diets and eating habits. Although most parents shop at supermarkets and superstores, around 40% shop at corner stores or bodegas for most of their food shopping. Most families buy food and items based on price and quantity rather than quality. About half report limited availability of fresh produce and low-fat items at their main food shopping store (RWJF). We hope by educating the children at an earlier age they will learn and try to get healthy alternatives.
Although schools try to educate their kids, there are cities such as New Brunswick that still have terrible food environments for students. New Brunswick children are more likely to be overweight or obese compared to their national counterparts. Almost all of New Brunswick children (88%) do not meet recommendations for vegetable consumption (RWFJ). For example, for students who live on campus at Rutgers University, there are numerous food services that the school offers them that provide healthy alternatives to the fast food. However, for students such as me who live off campus, it is harder to find places close by that could provide a similar selection. There are numerous chains and small food stores that are in a walkable distance to me than a farmer’s market. It is easier for me to walk down the street and get food that is not as expensive but will fill my hunger, regardless of how bad it is for me to eat, than walk a couple blocks and pay more for food on a daily basis.
Rutgers University is trying to change the food environment and make it easier for all their students to have accessibility to healthy alternatives. There is now a market on Livingston campus which students can easily get to by Rutgers buses for groceries. Although it still may be a hassle for off campus students, it is a step in the right direction on helping the food environment at Rutgers and New Brunswick, for the students and community.