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Brooklyn obesity figures shows the borough’s growing girth

Brooklyn’s love handles are showing.

According to recent state Department of Health figures, nearly 59 percent or 1,056,457 of the adults in Brooklyn are either overweight or obese.

The startling statistic was included in Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s recently announced legislation to ban trans-fats in public schools to combat childhood obesity, a precursor to adult obesity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the last 30 years, obesity among American children ages six to 11 has more than doubled -- from 6.5 percent to 17 percent.

In the same time frame, obesity among 12- to 19-year-olds has more than tripled, from five to nearly 18 percent.

“As Congress debates how to improve health care access and lower health costs, we must also pursue a strategy to tackle childhood obesity and improve the health of our future generations,” said Gillibrand.

Under Gillibrand’s legislation, any school that receives federal money would be required to remove food containing trans fat from the school. Schools would have a five-year window to implement the policy.

While Gillibrand’s legislative initiative winds its way through Congress, the city’s Department of Healthis also jumping on the bandwagon to lower obesity, which in itself can lead to diabetes and higher public health costs.

Among these initiatives is the city’s plan to hire a Healthy Food Coordinator at the Economic Development Corporation, who is charged with encouraging larger supermarkets to open in underserved neighborhoods.

The city also started the Healthy Bodegas initiative, in which the city worked with local bodegas to convey the importance of stocking more nutritious fare, About 1,000 bodegas have started selling low-fat milk, and another 520 bodegas became involved in the city’s “Move to Fruits and Vegetables” campaign.

The city also increased its “Green Cart” allowances and assistance for food cart vendors that set up shop in underserved neighborhoods.

While the city has several initiatives to address the obesity epidemic, Borough President Marty Markowitz has embarked on his annual “Lighten Up Brooklyn” initiative which encourages healthier eating and exercise to borough residents.

“The American Heart Association taught me the importance of physical activity, in particular, the importance of walking,” said Brooklyn resident Darnell Collier, who is a stroke survivor.

“Walking for just one hour a day can add two hours to your life; it’s easy, it’s free, it’s something almost everyone can do, and ultimately it’s something that can save your life,” he added.

Markowitz said that although the recent numbers of overweight and obese people in Brooklyn are troubling, residents should not give up in their fight to reduce weight.

“I have learned from my own lifelong ‘battle of the bulge’ that when you have to let your suits out, it’s defeat. But don’t give up. This is a matter of making the right choices, so if you’re at that ‘fork’ in the road, make the choice to lighten up today through a daily regimen of exercise and a healthy diet,” he said.

Markowitz’s initiative includes doling out free “Lighten Up Brooklyn” T-shirts (while supplies last) to anyone who puts together or joins a walking group of four or more members.

For more information on that visit www.brooklyn-usa.org for more information.

Thee American Heart Association is also holding aBrooklyn Start! Heart Walk on October 11. To register for the walk and find out more information, visit wwww.brooklynheartwalk.org.

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