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)