Organizations Honored by State Health Dept. for Working to Curb Childhood Obesity

Albany, June 5, 2002 – Six organizations from around New York State were honored today for their efforts to help curb the childhood obesity epidemic. The organizations were recognized during the New York State Health Department's seventh annual Eat Well, Play Hard meeting at Sage College of Albany.

"Obesity, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity are the most prevalent health problems among children and adolescents in New York State. The consequences are an increased lifelong risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, as well as other health and psychological problems and reduced quality of life," said State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H..

"New York was one of the first states to recognize and respond to the problem of childhood obesity. Since 1997, the State Health Department's Eat Well, Play Hard intervention has partnered with schools, day care centers, business and community groups to encourage increased physical activity and consumption of fruits and vegetables and one–percent or fat–free dairy products," Dr. Novello said.

The programs that received Awards for Excellence in Eat Well, Play Hard Practices were:

  • Mid–Hudson Children's Museum, Poughkeepsie, for its interactive exhibits promoting physical activity;
  • North Syracuse Early Education Program, North Syracuse, for an innovative physical education curriculum;
  • Fremont Elementary School, East Syracuse, for its community physical activity programs;
  • Most Holy Rosary School, Syracuse, for an unique peer nutrition education program;
  • Food Bank of Central New York, East Syracuse, for nutrition education programs in local elementary schools; and,
  • United Way of New York City, for its support of community vegetable gardens.

During the meeting, Eat Well, Play Hard community partners from across the state also shared updates on their efforts to encourage healthier lifestyles. They reported on a wide–range of strategies, including modeling healthy lifestyles with teams of "Department of Health Ambassador" bicyclists; sponsorship of fitness events; development of bike trails, playgrounds and walking paths; and promotion of farmers' markets.

Keynote speaker for the event was medical anthropologist Dr. Rena Gropper, who discussed cultural and social influences on nutrition. She also moderated a panel discussion on successful models for nutrition and physical activity behavior change that take cultural and social influences into account.

"The solution to childhood obesity requires many incremental steps at every level of society. The programs recognized today are representative of the Eat Well, Play Hard partnership between health professionals and community, and their commitment to serving New York's children," Dr. Novello said.

6/5/02–58 OPA