Monday, September 14, 2009

Couch Potatoes Are Next Challenge for Health Chief

“Couch potatoes in the boroughs outside Manhattan awake: New York’s health commissioner says that now that the city has smoking and trans fats under control, you and your exercise and eating habits are the next big challenge. The commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, who will be rolling out the city’s health goals for the next three years on Monday, said in an interview on Sunday that he was concerned about what he saw as the tendency of residents of the boroughs outside Manhattan to be fatter and less active than those in the city’s center. ‘In Manhattan, most people are going to be walking,’ said Dr. Farley, who is string-bean thin, lives in Brooklyn and runs three miles or bikes every day. ‘Throughout the other boroughs, they are going to be driving.’ He said he wanted to get people out of their cars and on their feet with interagency campaigns to create more bike lanes, open schoolyards for recreation and unlock staircases so people could walk down stairs. The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is already working with bodegas to help them stock more fresh fruit and vegetables, he said. ‘One of the first things I did as health commissioner was to unlock the doors in our stairwells at 125 Worth Street, which were often locked for security reasons,’ Dr. Farley said of the department’s headquarters in Manhattan. He said his focus on healthy eating and exercise took the responsibility for health care outside the traditional arena of doctors and hospitals. His agenda, he said, ‘includes what organizations can do, what we can do as a society. It is less focused on the health care system.’

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