Jose Calderon: Obesity Demands Our Attention

America's obesity crisis demands our full attention. This national epidemic is affecting our way of life, making us less healthy and less productive. The good news is that we have the power to make a real difference in the years ahead. By working together - communities, non-profits, business and government - we can solve this crisis by empowering New Yorkers and other Americans to make balanced and healthier lifestyle choices.

Unfortunately, the recent proposal by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Department of Health to ban the sale of sugared sweetened beverages over 16 ounces fails to advance this important public prerogative.

The fact of the matter is that this proposed ban doesn’t educate people on the need for balanced nutrition and physical activity inside or outside of the home. In practical terms, this effort will have little to no impact on obesity rates.

Today, too many of us spend our days sitting at desks, working at computers, watching TV and driving cars. According to studies by the CDC, every night, young people spend an average of 3 hours watching TV and another 3 hours playing video games or on a computer (unrelated to school work). This at a time when New York City has drastically cut physical education in schools, de-funded after-school programs and limited access to public parks.

Our emphasis and efforts should be targeted at addressing this issue sensibly through continuous public education campaigns and community programs that encourage regular physical activity and a balanced diet. Simple, yes, but this is the real game changer: empowering individuals to make the right choices for themselves and their families.

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You can't legislate personal food choices but you can help stimulate public awareness. By engaging in public and private partnerships and investing in citywide programs, together we can educate everyone about what they need to do to achieve health and wellness during their lifetime.