America’s obesity crisis demands our full attention. This epidemic is affecting our way of life, making us less healthy and less productive. The good news is that we have the power to make a real difference in the years ahead. By working together — communities, nonprofits, business and government — we can solve this crisis by empowering New Yorkers and other Americans to make balanced and healthier lifestyle choices.
Unfortunately, the recent proposal by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city Department of Health to ban the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages more than 16 ounces fails to advance this public prerogative. It does not educate people on the need for balanced nutrition and physical activity.
Too many of us spend our days sitting at desks, watching TV and driving cars. According to studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every night young people spend an average of three hours watching TV and another three playing video games or on a computer.
This at a time when the city has cut physical education in schools, defunded after-school programs and limited access to public parks.
Our efforts should be targeted at addressing this issue through continuous public education campaigns and community programs that encourage physical activity and a balanced diet. Empowering individuals to make the right choices for themselves and their families is the game changer.
You cannot legislate personal food choices, but you can help stimulate public awareness. By engaging in public and private partnerships and investing in citywide programs, we can educate everyone about what they need to do to achieve health and wellness during their lives.