Is Your Chicago Neighborhood Good For You?

March 08, 2011

Did you know that where you live could affect your health?

Obesity is a major health threat to our nation and to those right here in Chicago. In fact, not only are more than one-fourth of all Illinois adults obese, but the state suffers from the fourth highest percentage of obese and overweight children in the country.

With more than 60 chronic diseases linked to obesity, today’s kids could be the first in history to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

That’s pretty serious.

In addition, taxpayers, governments and businesses spend an estimated $168 billion covering obesity-related medical costs each year.

But what does all that have to with where you raise your family?

Limitations by the neighborhood in which you live can impact obesity. Consider these important factors when choosing a community:

Cute kid on a bike*How are the healthy food options? Are you moving to a food desert where your closest food providers are convenient stores and fast food restaurants or is there access to fresh fruits and vegetables?

*How safe are the sidewalks? Does the town encourage biking and walking?

*Are there nearby parks? If your backyard doesn’t have ample space for kids to exercise, make sure there are green spaces close enough for them to burn off some energy.

*Does your school district encourage exercise and extra-curricular activities? Does it offer gym every day? Is there enough time set aside for recess?

*How safe is the neighborhood? A recent study of public high school students suggested that there is a connection between obesity and feeling unsafe in one’s neighborhood.

“It’s not just about personal choice or individual choices, it’s about what the entire environment looks like,” said Dr. Mollie Greves Grow, a pediatrician specializing in childhood obesity. “If you can’t drive your child to go someplace to be active and if you can’t drive to go get your child healthier food outside of your neighborhood, you’re going to be limited to what’s immediately around you.”

Click to enter.

To raise awareness about the serious repercussions linked to obesity, a national nonprofit organization is hosting what sounds like a really fun night out.

The Chicago Fit Ball is set for March 23 at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The evening will feature special guest Chef Art Smith, a cocktail reception, a Vodka tasting, dinner, dancing and a live auction.

All proceeds will benefit The Campaign to End Obesity, which is working to reverse one of America’s costliest diseases.

What: Chicago Fit Ball

Where: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 North Cannon Drive, Chicago

When: Wednesday, March 23; 6 to 11 p.m.

Tickets: To purchase tickets to the event or to become a sponsor, visit

More: For more information on this cause or to make a donation, visit

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