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Senator Gillibrand Participates in Healthy Eating Fair at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore

During her visit to Montefiore, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is flanked by (l-r): George Gresham, President, 1199EIU, Steven M. Safyer, MD, President & CEO, Montefiore, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

Gillibrand Working with Bronx Doctors, Leaders to Combat Childhood Obesity Crisis

New York City (May 9, 2011) - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) participated in a "Healthy Eating Fair" today, sponsored by Montefiore's Food Education Project. Senator Gillibrand, who is leading the fight in combating rising rates of obesity, was joined at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore by Bronx parents and Dr. Steven M. Safyer, President and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center, and Dr. Philip Ozuah, Physician-in-Chief of The Children's Hospital at Montefiore and Professor and University Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity has tripled, with inner-city minority children disproportionately affected. In the South Bronx, nearly one in three kids enrolled in the Head Start program, which provides educational services for three- to five-year-olds from low-income households, is obese.

"The obesity crisis in the Bronx and throughout the country puts our children at serious risk of chronic illnesses, and holds them back from a bright future," said Senator Gillibrand. "We must teach our children to make healthy eating choices. By providing families with nutrition education programs, such as Montefiore's Healthy Eating Fair, we are one step closer to ensuring that every child has an opportunity to achieve their full potential."
 
"Montefiore has been spearheading innovative programs and initiatives to improve the health of parents and children of the Bronx for decades," said Dr. Steven M. Safyer, President and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center.  "Programs such as the Healthy Eating Fair continue our legacy of success in developing novel ways of improving health and well-being of the people of our community."

"After 20 years of medical practice in the South Bronx, I have come to appreciate the enormity, complexity and morbidity of the obesity epidemic," said Dr. Philip Ozuah. "The impact of obesity on children and their health is devastating and demands to be addressed."

Physical inactivity is one of the contributing factors to obesity, which increases the risk for many health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and heart disease.  In fact, in the Bronx, more than 4 in 10 high school students do not exercise at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week. Eight in 10 adolescents say they eat fewer than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

The Healthy Eating Fair was led by Miriam Pappo, MS, RD, CDN, Director of Clinical Nutrition at Montefiore Medical Center, who highlighted the importance of whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, helped parents identify foods and drinks high in sugar and salt and taught them how to reduce portion sizes and identify specific ingredients in food labels.

"Our goal is to give parents the tools to help their children eat properly," said Pappo.  "We want to educate parents about food and food preparation so they can make healthier choices for themselves and their families."