Healthy behavior dropped after Hurricane Sandy, poll says

An Occupy-Sandy relief table.

An Occupy Sandy relief table. 

Healthy behavior declined in areas most impacted by Hurricane Sandy, according to a Gallup poll.

Healthy behavior in terms of food and exercise is known to drop in winter months, but the poll found the tri-state area lagging behind the national average. Within the zip-codes most affected by Sandy, healthy eating especially dropped.

In all 47 states outside of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the poll reported six percent less exercise, but 13 percent less in the tri-state area. The most affected zip codes in all three states were actually higher on the chart, at a 12 percent decline.

But food is where the most devastated areas–marked by zip codes receiving the most aid from FEMA–stood out among neighboring communities. The poll said healthy eating declined by only one percent in the 47 other states, and by three percent in the tri-state area. In the most affected zip codes, healthy eating reportedly declined by seven percent.

The numbers, released in a February 8 report by Gallup, were taken from surveys six weeks prior and six weeks after the storm, ending on December 15.

The report speculated that though practical reasons must have contributed to it, stress may have also been a factor, if compared to typical behavior after stressful events. Smoking, cited as an indicator of stress, rose from 14 to 17 percent in the most impacted zip codes.

A 2006 American Psychological Association study cited in the report stated that “Americans engage in unhealthy behavior such as comfort eating, poor diet choices, smoking and inactivity to help deal with stress.”

The Gallup report also referenced a different study that found that exercise relieves stress, and suggested that whatever people could do to maintain a healthy lifestyle is worthwhile, even in these tough times.

(Image: Michael Fleshman, Flickr)