Statewide Tour Fighting Obesity Kicks off in Buffalo

Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker Promotes Healthy Bodies and Healthy Minds for Older New Yorkers During National Public Health Week

ALBANY (April 6, 2015) - Acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker kicked off a statewide Public Health Week tour of programs and organizations fighting against obesity today with a visit to Buffalo's Club 99, a free fitness program for Erie County resident over age 60. Dr. Zucker observed a fitness class and discussed the importance of physical activity to the health and well-being of older New Yorkers.

The reduction of obesity rates is a key focus of the state's Prevention Agenda 2013-17, the state's health improvement plan. As the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, obesity and overweight have reached epidemic proportions and may soon overtake tobacco as the leading cause of death. In New York State, 25.4 percent of adults are obese and another 35.9 percent are overweight, affecting an estimated 8.7 million people. Obesity contributes to many chronic diseases and conditions like type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, putting more than one-quarter of New Yorkers over the age of 65 at significant risk.

Since its causes are complex and occur at social, economic, environmental and individual levels, successful obesity prevention efforts, like those promoted by Club 99, use a multi-pronged approach that focuses on combining several different areas that all support healthy living.

"One of the biggest keys in helping seniors live healthy, independent lives is ensuring that they have the tools and resources to do so," said Erie County Senior Services Commissioner Randall Hoak. "Through Club 99 and Stay Fit Dining, Erie County has done just that by engaging our senior community in learning about proper nutrition, great ways of staying active, and providing opportunities to stay social."

At Club 99, seniors learn the value of healthy eating through individual counseling, group classes, and cooking demonstrations with certified professional chefs. These activities allow seniors direct access to the experts who can help them make better choices at the grocery store, curtail poor eating habits, and learn delicious new recipes. Additionally, exercise classes are offered which not only teach members great ways to burn calories, but also build strength, which is key in preventing one of the other biggest threats to seniors – falling. Each year, more than 141,000 older New Yorkers are treated at hospitals for injuries resulting from falling or slipping, but with regular physical activity and proper instruction, seniors are able to improve their strength, balance and coordination.

Club 99 is open to all New Yorkers over the age of 60 who are participating in the Erie County Department of Senior Service's Stay Fit Dining Program, which helps ensure all seniors have a hot and nutritious lunch during the week. It helps its members attain optimal well-being by providing a wide array of programs and services designed to enhance quality of life by fighting obesity and helping maintain physical independence while providing entertaining and fun social interaction.

First declared in 1995, National Public Health Week is an initiative of the American Public Health Association. It brings communities from all corners of the country together during the first full week of April to recognize the importance of public health policies and highlight issues that are vital to the overall health of the nation. In addition to Dr. Zucker's statewide tour, DOH is also providing health tips through social mediaunder the hash tag #GetFitNYS.

For more information about National Public Health Week, visit

For more information on ways to stay fit and eat healthy visit:

For more information about Club 99, call 716-858-6975.

For more information about falls prevention, visit