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City launches two new initiatives to combat obesity epidemic by helping New Yorkers shop and eat healthy

Bronx Times

Next up on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s chopping block: junk food.

Along with his efforts to ban the sale of soda over 16 ounces in public places, Bloomberg recently launched the next phase of his anti-obesity campaign in the Bronx, asking grocery stores to move healthy food options to the front and less healthy options to the back.

Shop Healthy NYC, the Health Department’s new voluntary pilot program, asks markets to minimize the availability of junk foods.

The program, initially targeting Fordham and West Farms, asks store owners to commit to seven store changes, including offering fruits and vegetables at the front of the store or cash register; displaying water and other low-calorie drinks at eye-level; and offering and promoting a healthy sandwich and meal combo at the deli counter.

Within Fordham and West Farms, two neighborhoods labeled as high need, 100 community groups and 150 retail venues have agreed to the pilot program, which could impact 136,000 people.

Two leading suppliers and distributors for city food stores – Jetro and Krasdale – will work with store owners to offer discounts on Shop Healthy foods and provide an easy-to-use order form for healthier items.

Jetro is committed to working with vendors on discounts for shop healthy identified foods for participating stores and Krasdale, which focuses on supermarkets, will create an order form listing all available items that meet the criteria to make it easy for stores to stock healthier items.

Jose Perez, president of New Era Foods One, Inc. which operates a C-Town Supermarket in the heart of the Belmont’s Little Italy, said he’s strongly committed to the program. “Operating for over 30 years within this community grants us the wisdom of the benefits found within healthy living and eating,” he said. “Our business model has always placed an emphasis on fresh quality produce and vegetables, for this reason. There is no coincidence as to why our store’s layout showcases these perishable products at the entrance.

“Neither is there a coincidence to how the colors and scents are statistically found to be most pleasing to our customers’ senses. Fresh food sells itself, and healthy alternatives taste great,” he continued. “We are simply proud to provide and properly display the options.”

Obesity is a rapidly growing public health problem, officials said, with 58 percent of New York City adults – over 3,400,000 people – now overweight or obese.

Obesity is a leading cause of preventable premature death, second only to tobacco, and is responsible for thousands of deaths per year through diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

More than one in three adult New Yorkers now either has diabetes or is at risk for developing diabetes in the future.

Linda Gibbs, deputy mayor for Health and Human Services, said that “Lasting change can be slow, but daily decisions as simple as buying an apple instead of a sugary beverage can have positive long-term health impacts.”

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at ksanchez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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