With Half of World’s Population Urban, CUNY SPH Faculty Examine How Cities Can Improve Health

April 25, 2015 | Press Releases & Announcements

What role can cities play in food policy? A new series of papers in the April issue of the British journal Public Health by CUNY SPH faculty at Hunter College and their international colleagues seeks to answer this question. The reports assess current efforts to reduce diet-related disease, obesity, and food insecurity in four world cities: New York City, London, Shanghai and Cape Town.

The articles grew out of a Fall 2013 Faculty Seminar on Municipal Food Policy led by Dr. Sue Atkinson, 2012-2013 Joan H. Tisch Distinguished Fellow in Public Health at Roosevelt House Institute for Public Policy. The seminar was co-led by Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health at Hunter College and the City CUNY School of Public Health and director of the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College

In their opening editorial, Atkinson and Freudenberg note that cities have become catalysts for change in social and public policy in part because they are home to more than half the world’s population and because they have demonstrated a capacity to innovate and challenge the status quo that national governments and international organizations sometimes lack.

In the special issue, three papers compare innovations and challenges in municipal food policy in New York with three other cities. Hunter Assistant Professor of Public Health (Nutrition) May May Leung and colleagues compare diet-related determinants of childhood obesity in New York and Shanghai. American professors and their colleagues in Cape Town, South Africa, analyze the roles of urban food policy in preventing diet-related non-communicable diseases in Cape Town and New York. Another paper compares examines the role of food policy in the last two Mayoral elections in London and New York City and charts the rise of food policy as an electoral issue. Three additional papers examine lessons from New York City for other municipalities.

More information on the special issue on urban food policy of Public Heath, the official journal of the Royal Society for Public Health, is available here.

The New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College develops intersectoral, innovative and evidence-based solutions to preventing diet-related diseases and promoting food security in New York and other cities.  It works with policy makers, community organizations, advocates and the public to create healthier, more sustainable food environments and to use food to promote community and economic development. Through interdisciplinary research, policy analysis, evaluation and education, we leverage the expertise and passion of the students, faculty and staff of Hunter College and CUNY. The Center aims to make New York a model for smart, fair food policy.