The Prevalence of Obesity Among Children and Adults in Chicago

Photo by US Department of Agriculture via Creative Commons

Esther Aguilar was obese in her 20s and recalled feeling depressed and tired for her weight. For her, this was caused by the inability to make food at home and having to eat out.

“I was not feeling good and was tired. I was depressed because I was overweight that it got to the point where you don’t care anymore. I’m already fat, you know.”

Esther explains that it was poor habits of eating unhealthy foods and being unable to cook that caused her obesity at a young age. It was not until she changed her lifestyle around her 30s where she was able to get on track to a healthier life. It was a combination of making healthy eating choices and more exercise that she was able to exclude herself from the list of those obese in the United States. However, that’s not the case for everyone.

Aguilar was one of the millions of Americans dealing with obesity. It impacts 39.8% of adults in 2016 and 18.5% for children in 2016 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Obesity Facts

Obesity has become a national epidemic and it is no different in Chicago. The city covers a relatively large area of Cook County, which has an obesity rate of 25.3%. That is furthermore compared to the other Chicago metro area counties of DuPage and Lake, both of which have a 23% obesity rate, according to the official Lake County website.

This is especially problematic for the youth as the amount of children obese at a young age has steadily increased. According to the CDC, the obesity rate among 2-19-year-olds has steadily been increasing from 13.9% in 1999-2000 to 18.5% in 2017.

According to Rosa Ramirez Richter, Director of Chicago Programs and Policy for Healthy School Campaign, unhealthy habits can start at a young age due to a lack of healthy food or opportunities for physical activities. One way to change these habits is through school.

“When we think of a healthy school environment, it’s not only the air that the students are breathing, but it’s also the food they’re eating, the opportunities that they get to practice these behaviors whether it’s practicing being physically active or learning about what good nutrition looks like,” said Rosa Ramirez. 

But some schools don’t offer that healthy environment. Eulalia P. Abril, associate professor from the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said she was caught off guard when she learned about vending machines in schools. 

“I was really shocked when I came to the US,” she said. “I’m originally from Catalonia, and when I came to the US and I saw vending machines in schools, that I thought that was crazy. I am shocked that lawmakers have not banned completely, vending machines from grade schools, middle schools, I would even argue, high schools.”

The unhealthy environments have harsh consequences in Chicago Public Schools.

“Forty-three percent of CPS students are considered overweight or are already obese, and that’s frightening,” Ramirez said. “When you start looking at that data even closer, it’s like one in five kindergarteners are coming in already overweight and obese.”

In 2010-2011, Kindergarteners in CPS had an obesity rate of 36.5% while ninth grade was 44.7% and sixth grade 48.6%.

Abril explained that with the prevalence of unhealthy foods, it’s more likely that more students will lean toward them. 

“When you provide more healthy foods than unhealthy ones, students choose healthy foods,” Abril said. 

This also applies to UIC, as Abril noticed that vending machines at the east campus of UIC have as much as 87% unhealthy snacks. She also recommends that there should be about 50% to 70% healthy foods compared to the amount of their unhealthy counterparts.

Vending Machines at UIC
Vending Machines at UIC. Photo by Fernando Mendez

“So that’s when you need any intervention of some sort of somebody who says no, you have to have at least 50% or 60 or 70% healthy foods, you know, compared to unhealthy ones.”

Abril says that with more unhealthy options than healthy ones, students are more inclined to pick unhealthy options more easily. 

Ramirez says there is a link between healthy between a child’s development and educational achievement. In a CDC report, evidence linked unhealthy diets to lower grades and confirmed physical activities to better grades. 

The prevalence of obesity among children has also lead to early health problems that usually wouldn’t be seen until later in life. 

Every year the Healthy Schools Campaign hosts a yearly parent leadership institute. This event brings parents from about 50 different schools across Chicago to learn about the importance of student health and to train up-and-coming leaders.

Ramirez recalls from their parent Leadership Institute,

“One of the parents had shared how she had to attend her nephew’s funeral,” she said. “He was 19 and had a heart attack. He was obese, struggled with weight, had high blood pressure, and had a heart attack”

Ramirez’s organization, the Healthy Schools Campaign, mixes policy advocacy with ground organizing work that encourages schools to implement healthy choices. Their organization has helped encourage CPS to reach high health standards.

In Chicago, those most affected by obesity tend to be people from the Hispanic and black communities. According to the Chicago Health Atlas, in Illinois, 39.3% of blacks and 37.5% of Hispanics, as well as 23.7% of whites are obese. 

Additionally, communities such as those in and around Chicago’s Austin and North Lawndale neighborhoods on the West Side, as well as neighborhoods such as Englewood on the South Side, have among the city’s poorest health outcomes, according to Professor Abril. 

These are one in many communities that are considered food deserts, neighborhoods that lack healthy food sources. These communities lack healthy resources causing many to suffer health issues.

 

 

As the map shows, many areas in the South and West side are lacking grocery stores in their areas compared to those in the Northside. This means that certain communities are lacking access to healthy foods, which can lead to major health problems.

According to the Chicago Health Atlas, communities in the South and West side have suffered more heart and diabetes-related deaths than in any other neighborhood. 

The South and West sides also have the highest rates of fast food consumption during 2015-2016, with Humboldt Park and Chicago Lawn leading their respective areas of the city with consumption rates of 15.3 and 17.6.

As Abril said, “There needs to be more interest from whoever has the power to deliver these fruits and vegetables to these communities to make it happen”.

Lakeview Learning Center: What Happened to it?

Education is a vital resource that should be accessible to all people, including adults. One of the most prominent ones in Chicago was the Lakeview Learning Center.

The Lakeview Learning Center specialized in adult education. It provided the resources to get a GED, learn English, and walk the path towards citizenship. The place was well-known as a place for immigrants to learn and was also the place where my parents learned English.

However, in 2018, the Lakeview Learning Center building would be torn down. This after a $7 million sale it sold to BlitzLake Panthers, which is a real estate agency.

Lakeview Learning Center Before and After Shot
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As the image shows, all that’s left is of the place is an empty area. In fact, that’s not the only place that was torn down. Many other buildings around the Lakeview Learning Center have also been torn down.

While officials have stated this was made to make direct students to Truman college, some other possibilities are controversial. One possible reason why is that rent in this area is getting expensive. The center was right in the core of Wrigleyville and with the victory of the Cubs in 2016, rent is likely to go up. Although the property could have been sold to benefit from the Cubs 2016 World Championship win.

Lakeview Learning Center being destroyed
Lakeview Learning Center in the process of being destroyed (June 2018)

Either way, the cost of losing a historic building that helped immigrants in the United States is a bit steep. While officials say that it will be more convenient to go to Harry S Truman College, the main appeal of the original location was its convenience. This is expressed in a video of immigrants that have benefitted from the Learning Center. While it may be gone, people should never forget the legacy of this great place.

Military Retirees in Illinois

When it comes to benefits a veteran receives after retirement, the state that they are in will heavily affect this result. Illinois is no exception with benefits that can be easily accessed more than others.

 

Military Retirees in Illinois

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According to a WalletHub study, Illinois ranks 38th out of all states, including the District of Columbia. Illinois is excelling in supporting benefits in one manner over others. For example, Illinois has the best quality of life for veterans, being the 8th best. This means veterans in Illinois have an easier time finding a place to live, as well as other benefits like school.

However, Illinois is falling behind in the economic environment and healthcare, being 21st and 33rd best respectively. This means finding a job and finding people to help with health or mental issues are harder in Illinois compared to other states for military retirees. If Illinois wants to be a state that supports its veterans, it should strive to give them a better economic environment and health care privileges.

Libraries in Chicago Neighborhoods

With information being easily accessible through the Internet, some may believe libraries would go out of style. However, Chicago has proven that libraries continue to thrive.

Chicago has 81 libraries all throughout the city of Chicago. Despite there being only 77 neighborhoods, not every single one has a library in its neighborhood.

As the map shows, 14 neighborhoods (colored yellow) don’t have a library in them. People in neighborhoods such as Avondale, Near South Side, and Burnside have to go the extra mile to access a library.

Libraries are an important place for accessing free information, a place to study, and a gathering place for the community. To not have a library in a community creates a significant disadvantage for everyone in the neighborhood.

Thankfully, more is being done to make libraries more accessible to more people. Near the end of September, Chicago announced that it would stop fining people for overdue books. According to mayor Lori Lightfoot, this move was done to remove an unfair barrier for the young and lower-income people.

With more actions being done to make libraries more accessible, hopefully, this means more libraries will be made soon. In the meantime, feel free to use this map as a guide to accessing a library near you.

Google Trends: Controversial Move Increases Hong Kong Awareness While Damaging Blizzard and Playstation 5 Surpasses Project Scarlett’s Popularity

Controversial Move Increases Hong Kong Awareness While Damaging Blizzard

Blizzard – creators of games like Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Diablo – have been under fire due to their actions against Hearthstone player Blitzchung. Following a Grandmasters tournament win, Blitzchung made statements to “liberate Hong Kong” during a post-game interview. On October 9, Blizzard suspended Blitzchung from Grandmasters for one year and withheld all the prize money he earned during the season. This action enraged many and made Hong Kong and Blizzard a popular topic on the web.

Google Trends: Blizzard and Hong Kong
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As the graphic shows, Blizzard and Hong Kong started to rise in Google searches around the time Blizzard suspended Blitzchung. Blizzard’s attempt to censor Blitzchung’s of his Hong Kong sentiments has only backfired as the following days would show a high interest in Hong Kong’s liberation and the condemnation of Blizzard. The following backlash Blizzard received would show up around the same time.

Google Searches of Boycott Blizzard and Hong Kong Protest
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As Google Trends shows, the demand to boycott Blizzard and interests in Hong Kong protests would rise in the United States around October 9. Because of Blitzchung’s actions, many people are realizing the oppressive nature of the Chinese government and have wanted to learn more about Hong Kong protests. Ironically, Blizzard’s actions made people care about the state of Hong Kong despite their attempts to condemn and censor his statements. Civil rights practices are not uncommon in sports, but to happen in an esports event is fairly new and could be seen more in the future.

On the other end, the negativity towards Blizzard continues to grow. Not only are people criticizing Blizzard for its harsh punishment towards Blitzchung, but for censoring free speech and trying to appease China. As the graph shows, this incident made people interested in boycotting Blizzard. Blizzard’s favoring of China and harsh punishments have led the company to face harsh criticism, but it has died down recently. Still, this episode isn’t over as people plan to protest during Blizzcon, Blizzard’s annual convention. No matter what Blizzard’s intentions were, their actions have made Hong Kong more popular and have made themselves look like the villains.

Playstation 5 Surpasses Project Scarlett’s Popularity

Next-gen is finally around the corner with Microsoft and Sony announcing the release date of their respective consoles to come out during the holidays in 2020. It’s Microsoft’s Project Scarlett against Sony’s Playstation 5, although there’s one that has been searched up more than the other.

 

Google Trends: Playstation 5 and Project Scarlett
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According to Google Trends, the most searched up console in the past year is the PlayStation 5. This is likely due to several rumors about the PlayStation 5’s development by various sources and developers. One of Playstation 5’s major spikes happened in April where the specs of the console were revealed. The searches would reach its peak on October 8, where PlayStation announced the official release date and announced some details of the new console. This lead to a huge spike, trampling the searches over Project Scarlett.

Project Scarlett has only gained a few spikes of popularity. In e3 2019, Microsoft officially announced Project Scarlett in a video explaining the console’s new specs. Although the Scarlett was searched more after this announcement, it was still overshadowed by the PlayStation 5. The strange part about this is that Sony did not participate in e3 2019, nor did it make any major announcement about the PlayStation 5, yet it was still searched more than the Scarlett.

These Google searches illustrate how much Project Scarlett is laking behind the PlayStation 5 popularity-wise. Whether it’s the lack of an official name or lack of games, Microsoft needs to step up their game next year if they want to compete with the PlayStation 5 and not drown in obscurity.

Evo’s Largest Prize Pools are Inconsistent with their Game’s Attendance

Evo is the biggest annual fighting game tournament ever drawing competitors from all across the world. Every year the number of people registered-not including spectators-continues to increase with 2019 having a turnout of 9,231 competitors beating 2018’s 7,680 competitors. Despite these impressive numbers, not every game is treated fairly when it comes to the prize pool. Many times games with the highest attendance have a lower prize pool than the lower ones.

Graph of Evo's largest prize pools with attendants
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For example, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was the most attended tournament in Evo 2019 with 3,492 entrants. This was one of Evo’s most popular tournaments, but it only had a prize pool of $35,340 for the top 8. As the graph shows, games with higher prize pools actually had less attendance than SSBU. In the same year, Samurai Shodown and Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition had higher prize pools with $47,290 and $69,510 respectively.

It’s clear that certain games are more in favor than others, especially compared to those sponsored by video game companies. For example, Evo is a part of Capcom’s Pro Tour so they added $50,000 to the prize pool of Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition in 2019. In 2016 Warner Bros. and NetherRealm Studios also added $50,000 to their game’s prize pool, Mortal Kombat X.

These inconsistencies represent a common issue with Evo and other major tournaments. Not every game is treated equally when it comes to the payout. If you’re a person that plays a competitive game that lacks support from its developer then the amount of prize money will significantly drop. This is most notable with Nintendo, who is notorious for not supporting the competitive scene.

In the end, this shows how not all games are treated equally in Evo, at least prize pool wise. This isn’t exactly Evo’s fault, but the inconsistent treatment these games are given or lack thereof from their developer. With players coming from all over the world and with Evo growing more popular every year, companies should step up and support their game in the competition if they haven’t done so already.

Cubs Attendance at a Rise After Team’s Success

It’s no secret that the Chicago Cubs have had a rough history. Fans would have to wait 71 years from 1945-2016 for the Cubs to win a world series. Sadly this streak would even affect their numbers in recent years.

Cubs Attendance
The graphic displays Cubs attendance from 2007-2016. https://www.datawrapper.de/_/TUKWo/

The graph shows that the Cubs had the highest attendance in 2008 with 3,300,000. In the same year, the Cubs made it to their postseason for the second year in a row. However, after 2008, the Cubs were unable to make it past the playoffs again. The Cubs wouldn’t make it to the playoffs until 2015. During this time the Cubs would see a drop in attendance, going as low as 2,642,682 attendance in 2013. This downfall would stop in 2014, but it would see a great increase when the Cubs, under the new management of Joe Maddon, would make it to the playoffs again in 2015. The attendance in 2015 would spike up to 2,919,122, a 10% increase from 2014’s attendance which was 2,652,113. Finally, once the Cubs won the World Series, their attendance nearly reached the high attendance of 2008 with 3,232,420 attendants. Ever since that World Series victory, the Cubs have been having high attendance no lower than 3,000,000. If the Cubs continue to succeed under this new management they’ll likely reach a new record in attendance again.