Hurricane Sandy victims cut healthy habits

Feb. 8, 2013 at 11:55 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Following Superstorm Sandy, many lost power, possessions, homes, jobs and healthy behaviors, a U.S. survey indicates.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found residents of the most affected ZIP codes in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut were 12 percent less likely to report exercising for 30 minutes at least three days per week after the storm than before.

Those living elsewhere in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut saw just as much of an impact on exercise -- a 13 percent decrease. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index typically finds exercise decreases in the fall and winter, but the decrease in these hurricane-affected areas was double the national average during the same time period.

In addition, the respondents in the most affected areas were 7 percent less likely to say they were eating healthy after the storm than before it -- more than double the decline in the rest of the affected states.

Additionally, smoking appears to be up slightly in the most impacted ZIP codes -- rising from 14 percent to 17 percent -- while the smoking rate in the rest of America remained unchanged.

The margin of error was 2.1 percentage points for ZIP codes hardest hit by Sandy before the storm, 2.4 percentage points for hardest hit areas after the storm and 0.5 percentage points for the areas of the states not hit by the storm.

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