Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Health Corps Tackles Obesity Epidemic

In this week's Bronx special take-out edition of the NY Daily News, Dr. Mehmet Oz, the founder of the Health Corps, writes about the group's efforts to fight obesity through education and health activism. The HC is funded by a $2 million grant from the City Council, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars that the group-and its CEO Michele Bouchard-have been able to raise privately.

Starting in the fall, the group will be working in 28 city high schools under the direction of the group's educational director Rob Roberts. A coordinator, trained by Roberts will be working in each of the schools, generating awareness about health life styles, and working with local stores and community groups on initiatives to increase health living.

The goal of the HC is to change attitudes at the local level; by encouraging personal as well as communal changes. The program has been strongly supported by Councilman Joel Rivera, chair of the Council's Health Committee. One of its immediate goals is to work with the DOE to increase the participation of local school kids in the vital free universal breakfast program. A report released this month indicated that only 29% of NYC school children were availing themselves of the breakfast.

Dr. Oz, who is a regular on the Oprah Winfrey show and is the author of two best selling books on health, feels that if we don't create a health activism we are going to be in a massive health crisis in the near future. When young people in their twenties are coming in for heart procedures we are facing a serious public policy calamity, one that we can't afford from either a fiscal or a health perspective.