Acting State Health Commissioner "Walks the Walk" with Long Islanders to Help Fight Obesity

Exercising at Belmont Lake State Park is Part of Public Health Week Statewide Tour

ALBANY (April 9, 2015) - Acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker's statewide tour to fight obesity stopped at Belmont Lake State Park today where Dr. Zucker joined with New York State Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey, the Long Island Health Collaborative (LIHC) and local officials to highlight the importance of physical activity in the fight against obesity. The group enjoyed a one-mile walk around Belmont Lake to reinforce the importance of getting physical. As part of National Public Health Week, Dr. Zucker has been leading a statewide tour, visiting with organizations helping to fight obesity in our communities. Governor Cuomo launched the statewide educational campaign this week to provide information to New Yorkers about the second leading cause of death nationwide.

"New York State has so many wonderful parks that offer countless opportunities for physical activity, which is a key element of defeating obesity," said Dr. Zucker. "Whether it's taking a walk on your lunch break, or enjoying the outdoors on a weekend afternoon with your family, I encourage all New Yorkers to make an effort in 2015 to turn off your TV and computers, get outside, and stay active!"

"New York State parks here on Long Island and across the State are the perfect places to be active and healthy. From a brisk walk along the beach or a lake, a trail hike, or participation in an organized recreational activity, our parks offer countless opportunities for New Yorkers of all ages to get outside and exercise, surrounded by the natural beauty our parks have to offer and the support of our staff and fellow visitors. I encourage all New Yorkers to explore their parks this summer and keep visiting as part of an active, healthy lifestyle," said New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey.

The reduction of obesity rates is a key focus of the 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 thanks to the role it plays in the development of many chronic diseases and conditions like type-2 diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 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. On Long Island, approximately 20.8 percent and 28.4 percent of adults are obese, in Nassau and Suffolk respectively.

Because the causes of obesity are complex and occur at social, economic, environmental and individual levels, there is no single solution. Successful prevention efforts require multiple strategies at the national, state and local levels that support healthy eating and active living. The Long Island Health Collaborative has been a leader on Long Island in this effort through its Long Island Walk Initiative which helps support sponsored walking events and makes resources about the importance of walking and how to organize walking events available.

"Long Island's hospitals are all about prevention and wellness,"said CEO and president of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council Kevin Dahill. "What better way to promote that message than by taking a walk in one of our area's most beautiful parks. Our hospitals and two local health departments frequently work together to bring prevention and treatment programs to Long Islanders."

"I encourage all to integrate daily physical activity into everyday life," said Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein. "Regular physical activity, even as simple as walking, reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes."

"Obesity can lead to a number of diseases, both chronic and acute," said Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services James L. Tomarken, MD, MPH, MBA, MSW. "The good news is that we can prevent many diseases by becoming more active. In Suffolk County there are myriad parks and trails available to both residents and visitors who want to live a more active lifestyle."

"Nassau County is home to beautiful parks, nature preserves and recreational facilities," said Nassau County Legislator Rose Marie Walker. "I encourage all residents to take advantage of the wide range of activities that promote health and fitness, from nature trails, bicycling, swimming and golf.Our parks are the perfect place to live a healthier lifestyle."

"Physical Fitness is a vital element of overall health and wellbeing and I'm proud to have sponsored and passed legislation creating a "Park's Rx" program in Suffolk County," said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn. "It's incumbent upon health care providers and policymakers to do all they can to promote recreation that enhances the quality of life for communities across Long Island".

Physical activity, including walking, can help improve blood pressure, weight, cholesterol and even mood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people reach a goal of just 150 minutes of activity per week each week which equals a little more than 20 minutes a day. In today's busy world, some people are unable to work an exercise schedule into their day, however there are numerous ways that individuals can be more active, including:

  • Park the car in a central location and walk to all your nearby errands rather than driving to each individual store.
  • Find a walking buddy at work. Meet during lunch and go for a brisk walk and be sure to keep extra shoes and socks in your filing cabinet!
  • Host a Walking Meeting—walk and talk over problems with your colleagues for the first 20 minutes then hit the conference room to write down ideas and finish up.
  • Make a Walk-and-Talk date with a friend or family member. Rather than grabbing a coffee, do a loop around the neighborhood instead.
  • Walk while waiting. Walk around the field at your child's sports practice or outside the restaurant as you wait for your table.

LIHC is a bi-county initiative that promotes improved health through physical activity and nutrition awareness. Members include Suffolk County and Nassau County Departments of Health, Long Island's 24 hospitals, community-based social and human service organizations, schools, colleges, local governments, health plans, and other partners. LIHC is coordinated by the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, the association that represents LI's not-for-profit and public hospitals.

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 LIHC and the Long Island Walks Initiative, visit: