According to a New York City survey, about half of the city's children are overweight or obese. As the majority leader for the city council and the chairman of its health committee, Joel Rivera is making it a priority to reverse the city's childhood obesity trend. Dr. Oz talks with Joel about his ambitious goal and steps the city council has taken to help kids lose weight.
Joel says many of the city's overweight children are at risk of becoming diabetic or are already diabetic. Joel says an obesity prevention program is necessary and the local government is working with organizations to kick off a multimillion-dollar initiative to combat the problem.
One of the city council's goals is to increase the availability of fresh foods to underserved areas of the city. "We are promoting the green markets within neighborhoods, so we can get the healthier, fresher foods to the local communities that unfortunately don't have them," he says. In addition, the city is pushing to get kids more areas to play and exercise. "We can continue to invest in our parks—our parks are the best resources," he says. "We can develop more [running] tracks … in the city of New York."
Changing the way kids eat is also part of Joel's plan. In the past, Joel says he has proposed limiting the number of fast food restaurants that are near schools. He says the city's recent ban on trans fats is also forcing restaurants to offer healthier options. "It is not going to happen overnight, but it will have a systematic effect, where one business will change its menu, and obviously competition will develop," he says.
Published on July 03, 2007