Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rivera's health initiative headed to schools and families

Here's a story that didn't make this week's Riverdale Review.

By Brendan McHugh 

Is Diaz enjoying this a little too much?
Rivera has lost 16 lbs. since June.
As the first Bronx CAN Health Initiative winds down, state Senator Gustavo Rivera and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. spent Monday kicking off the new family-oriented initiative in Bronx schools.

Standing for ‘Changing Attitudes Now,’ the CAN initiative encourages Bronxites to eat healthier and work out more. Rivera has joined with Diaz, Montefiore Medical Center and various community groups throughout the Bronx, encouraging children and adults alike to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

"For the last few months, the Bronx CAN Health Initiative has inspired Bronxites to take responsibility over their own health and make changes to their habits in order to lead longer and healthier lives," Rivera said.

Rivera and Diaz attended a celebration of National Food Day on Monday, Oct. 24 at the Academy of Mount St. Ursula, one of several schools in the Bronx that have adopted the Bronx CAN Family Health Challenge.

Jump below for the full story, including a picture of Rivera from June and information about a campaign the NYC health department started today.

The family challenge is an eight-week initiative that asks families and children to make one or two changes every week. It starts off with only drinking milk or water for a week rather than soda or juice and over the next seven weeks, projects range from eating one piece of fruit per day to eating smaller portions to exercising 30 minutes per day.

The guidebook created will reach more than 50 public schools through Montefiore’s school-based health clinics.

"Given that issues of obesity, heart disease and diabetes start with the formation of bad health habits at a young age, I am excited that the Bronx CAN Health Initiative is continuing in Bronx schools,” Rivera said. “It is my hope that the students and families who take on this 8-week challenge will continue to incorporate the lessons they learned as part of the Family Health Challenge into their daily lives."

Rivera weighed in at 299 lbs. in June, and his CAN challenge goal was to lose 15 to 20 lbs. by the end of October. At the event Monday he weighed himself in front of hundreds of teenage girls and came in at 283 lbs.; 16 lbs. down from June.

Rivera on June 11: 299 lbs.
Rivera on Oct. 24: 283 lbs.

“The lessons they will learn during these eight weeks can really help the members of our community, young and old, to start making healthier decisions as far as what they eat day to day, and can ultimately lead to a healthier lifestyle for Bronxites overall,” Diaz said. Over the summer, the borough president has noted that in the Latino community, a tradition of eating large meals is often the cause of obesity in children.

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's latest reports, the Bronx continues to be the unhealthiest county in the state of New York, with higher rates of obesity, diabetes and asthma than other parts of the state.

Nicole Smith, a senior at Mount St. Ursula, said finding healthy food is difficult in the Bronx.

“There needs to be a bigger change in the Bronx. Why not offer healthy foods in bodegas?” she asked. “On every other block there’s a McDonald’s. Where are the stores that offer fruits and vegetables?”

Rivera’s last weigh-in will be at St. James Park on Oct. 29, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. for the last of the Bronx CAN Health Initiative's monthly health fairs.

Today, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley unveiled a new Health Department education campaign that describes how drinking just one 20 ounce soda a day translates to eating 50 pounds of sugar a year. The 30-second TV spot will air on major broadcast and cable TV stations over the next two months as a stark reminder to New Yorkers about how sugary drinks can lead to obesity, which can cause diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and some cancers.

The campaign also includes subway posters that show how far one would have to walk to burn off a single soda. The distance is three miles, or from Union Square to Brooklyn.

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