Acting State and Onondaga Health Commissioners Hit the Hardwood in Syracuse to Promote Physical Activity for Kids

Public Health Week Campaign To Fight Obesity Stops In Syracuse

ALBANY (April 7, 2015) - Acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta are showing local kids how much fun it is to be active and healthy. The group met at the Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility, Inc. at the Southwest Community Center to help educate local youth on the importance of leading an active lifestyle that includes proper nutrition, exercise and avoiding bad health habits. Governor Cuomo launched a statewide educational campaign this week to help fight obesity by providing information to New Yorkers about the second leading cause of death nationwide.

"Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in our country and if we are to truly defeat this disease, we must focus on preventing it early in life," said Dr. Zucker. "It is essential that we teach children the importance of staying active and living a healthy lifestyle, like these athletes. Whether it's a pick-up game of basketball or simply going for a jog, physical activity will make you and your family and friends healthier and improve your quality of life."

Indu Gupta, MD, MPH, Onondaga County Commissioner of Health states that, "Daily physical activity is the best medicine for everyone. Whether you are chasing the kids at the playground, walking in the park, playing basketball or soccer, or working out at the gym, it increases social interaction, reduces daily stresses of life, and improves your overall health and fitness."

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. Carrying too much body weight presents significant risk factors for many chronic diseases and conditions including type-2 diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which have all become increasingly prevalent in children and adolescents. In New York State, overweight and obesity affect 40 percent of New York City public school students aged 6-12 yearsand 32 percent of students throughout the rest of the state.

Since causes of obesity are complex and occur at social, economic, environmental and individual levels, there is no single solution sufficient to turn the tide on this epidemic. Successful prevention efforts require multiple strategies on the national, state, local and family levels that support healthy eating and active living.

Children and adolescents learn a lot about staying active from their families, so if family members find ways to enjoy physical activity, it will almost certainly have a positive impact on the kids. This applies to caregivers and babysitters too. Local parks provide numerous opportunities for physical activity and also help families stay engaged in the community.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that children and adolescents should have at least one hour of physical activity that combines aerobic and bone and muscle strengthening activities every day. Younger children do better moving between short bursts of activity followed by short periods of rest, making gymnastics, playing on a jungle gym, or playing tag great options. Adolescents, on the other hand, enjoy longer, more structured activities like games of pickup basketball, other team sports, or even a structured weight-lifting program.

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 media under 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: