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NEW YORK — “For most of us, few health issues hit closer to home than weight. Nearly all of us have either struggled to maintain a healthy weight, or we know someone who has. And it is a struggle. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, finding time to exercise and maintaining the commitment to both – not for a few months or years but throughout one’s life – is a real challenge. And if you lose weight only to gain it back, you can get discouraged or lose hope. Our Administration is saying to every New Yorker: you’re not alone. We are absolutely committed to doing everything in our power to help you get on track, and stay on track, to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Because this isn’t your struggle alone. The obesity epidemic is a crisis for our entire country.
“In New York City, we’re confronting the crisis on several fronts, including our most recent proposal to curb consumption of sugary beverages. The reason: We get more excess calories from sodas and other sugary beverages than any other individual source. What’s worse, these calories flood our bodies with sugar without making us feel full.
“Sugary drink consumption is a key driver of the obesity epidemic in the U.S., and in New York. And it is an epidemic. Nearly 60 percent of adult New Yorkers and 40 percent of our children are overweight or obese. In the Bronx, that number is 70 percent. Millions of New Yorkers, because of their weight, are at greater risk of developing a host of diseases and conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, joint problems, and blindness. And the cost to treat obesity’s effects continues to soar. It’s estimated at $4 billion in New York this year alone. Most tragic of all, if you’re overweight or obese, you also face a higher risk of early death. In fact, obesity is the second-leading cause, just after smoking, of preventable death in our city. Each year, an estimated 5,800 New Yorkers die because they are overweight or obese.
“The good news is that awareness of the problem is growing – and so is the momentum for tackling it. In just the last week, our effort has garnered the support of a number of local elected leaders, former Mayor Ed Koch, and former President Bill Clinton, as well as leading public health experts around the country. Why? Because they realize, as does our Administration, that we can’t simply treat the effects of obesity – we must help people change their lives before they ever need to enter a hospital. That’s why we’re working with hospitals and community groups to provide exercise programs and cooking classes, as well as host farmers’ markets so New Yorkers have healthier options. And we’re educating parents and children to make healthy food choices.
“Also encouraging was First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcement with Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger that Disney would no longer air ads aimed at children for products that contain large amounts of fat, sugar, or sodium. Hopefully Disney will start a trend. But we can’t sit back and wait for others to act. We’re taking responsibility for the problem now – and taking action ourselves.
“Obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. But if we work together, I know it’s a fight we can win.
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