It’s summer in the city. The fire hydrants are busted, the ACs are dripping, and the Mr. Softee jingle is a familiar sound wafting through the humidity. But while ice cream can be sweet relief from the heat, it’s also part of a unique problem that spikes during the summer months: childhood obesity.
In 2007, Ohio State University and Indiana University researchers analyzed 5,380 elementary schoolkids’ body mass indexes across the country and found that BMI grew more than twice as rapidly over the summer months. Public health experts have hypothesized that summer vacation means kids spend more time in front of the TV with more snacks than they would consume in school, and low-income communities without access to safe parks and healthier foods are especially at risk.
With these inequalities in mind, the Food Bank for New York City has dispatched an “anti-ice cream” truck targeted at teens in the summer months. Their “Change One Thing” outreach campaign will be popping up at parks, pools, and sports fields in Harlem, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, encouraging teens to change just one habit–even if it means swapping one soda for a bottle of water.
This weekend, the truck will hit up Riverside Park’s basketball tournament, where it will pass out snack alternatives. Ads promoting the campaign will pop up on phone kiosks, bus stops, and convenience stores.