City Council Health Chair Joel Rivera held a press conference on the steps of City Hall yesterday to announce his $6 million funding initiative to combat childhood obesity. Joined by Dr. Mehmet Oz, the founder of the innovative Health Corps, and other health advocates, Rivera told the gathering that the small allocations being requested today would save the city untold future millions in health care costs.
This sentiment was echoed by Dr. Oz, who described how he has started doing heart bypass operations on twenty five year olds. As he told Metro New York, "Fighting obesity is not just a weight issue. It's our nation mortgaging our future." Joining Rivera at the press conference were council members White, Monseratte, Vallone, Gentile and Vacca. Monseratte, who has already lost twenty five pounds, pledged to lose another twenty, while White pledged to lose a more modest five pounds. All came out strongly in support of the initiative.
The $6 million request will be decided in the coming weeks as council budget negotiations conclude toward the end of the month. The Health Corps, looking to expand into more than thirty schools in the fall, has been discussing collaboration with the Department of Education on as number of its school-based health initiatives.
Dr. Roger Platt, who is the liaison between the DOE and the Health Department sees the HC as a perfect vehicle to advance these health policies through the creation of an activist student cadre that will promote healthier living to their peers as well as into the community. It is hoped that the Bloomberg administration will agree to match any coucnil allocation for this exciting and innovative approach to the hearts and minds side of the health issue.