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)