Commissioner Novello Announces Funding Targeting Overweight and Obesity Issues in Minority Communities

Grants Will Strengthen Community-based Organizations in Addressing Obesity

Albany, February 27, 2004 — New York State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. today announced $20,000 in State mini-grant awards addressing overweight and obesity problems in minority communities. These awards will help support community level health promotion and disease risk reduction activities to improve the health of all New Yorkers, particularly those at high risk for specific diseases.

"Providing grants to community organizations has cumulative benefits for strengthening partnerships between the Department of Health and communities," Dr. Novello said. "We applaud the staff and volunteers of these organizations for their commitment to improve the health of New York’s most vulnerable citizens.

"Obesity, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, as well as other health and psychological problems, all which contribute to a reduced quality of life. We recognize and encourage their continued commitment to reduce obesity and associated health problems in our communities."

The number of obese Americans has increased more than 50 percent over the past two decades. Twenty percent of children in New York State between the ages of six and eleven are overweight. Over half of adult New Yorkers are overweight, and one person out of every six is obese.

FOODLINK, Inc. of Rochester, CLUSTER, Inc. of Yonkers, Urban Health Plan, Inc. of South Bronx and Cornell Cooperation Ext. of Suffolk County from Central Islip-Patchogue, will each receive $5,000 to support culturally relevant projects aimed at reducing overweight and obesity in targeted minority communities. These organizations will head projects ranging from creating childhood salad bars in a local school district, to forming walking clubs at senior housing projects to help improve the nutrition and physical activity of those participating.

The Office of Minority Health has awarded annual mini-grants for ten years. These mini-grants fund projects that are short-term, have well defined outcomes and target specific populations. They have been proven as an effective means for community-based organizations to address local health issues more effectively and to improve outreach to racial and ethnic minority populations. Some of the projects have resulted in additional funding from other sources, which have allowed for the development of new programs.

Grants were awarded to applicants showing the highest potential for a successful program. Geographic distribution of each proposed project was also considered during the competition. The Office of Minority Health received funding from a state appropriation.

The New York State Department of Health continues the important task of promoting healthy lifestyles through the implementation of additional community based programs. The Department’s "Move for Life!" program improves employee well being through physical activity programs in the workplace. In addition, the Department’s "Healthy Heart" program addresses cardiovascular disease by funding community physical activity and nutrition coalitions in addition to work site wellness programs. Another Department initiative titled "Eat Well Play Hard" assists in the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity problems and helps reduce long-term risks for chronic disease by promoting targeted dietary practices and increasing physical activity in children.

For more information about these programs, please visit the Department's web site (http://www.health.ny.gov).