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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
September 16, 2004

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Jennifer Sciortino
609-984-7160


 
DHSS Office of Minority and Multicultural Health to Promote Events to Combat Obesity


 

“Take a Walk for Life” Day - Saturday, September 18, 2004

 

TRENTON – Recognizing the growing problem of obesity in the minority community, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services’ (DHSS) Office of Minority and Multicultural Health (OMMH) is pleased to announce “Take a Walk for Life” day on Saturday, September 18, 2004.

 

“Obesity has become epidemic in the United States,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. “Being overweight or obese increases the risk of asthma, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, and breast, prostate and colon cancers. To reduce the risk of disease, pursue a healthy lifestyle through proper diet and regular exercise.”

 

Obesity impacts minority communities disproportionately.  According to DHSS’s Center for Health Statistics, in New Jersey, 68 percent of African Americans and 61 percent of Hispanic Americans are overweight or obese compared with 57 percent of white Americans and just 36 percent of Asian Americans.

 

Body Mass Index (BMI), is a measurement tool used to determine excess body weight. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 or more, obesity is 30 or more, and severe obesity is 40 or more.

 

In partnership with community-based organizations, faith-based groups and health care providers throughout the state, OMMH is encouraging people to walk for a healthier lifestyle as a part of the statewide observance of Minority and Multicultural Health Month 2004.  Numerous New Jersey agencies plan to recognize this day by sponsoring walks in their communities and encouraging everyone to participate. 

 

Atlantic City, Camden, Hammonton, Jersey City, Orange and Trenton, as well as various locations in Bergen County, will be sponsoring walking-themed activities while providing information on healthy eating, cooking demonstrations, aerobics activities, health screenings and other health fair activities. 

 

While OMMH encourages everyone to walk on September 18, “Take a Walk for Life” is designed to reach beyond a single day and motivate residents to incorporate walking or any safe physical activity into their lives on a regular basis. OMMH and many participating organizations throughout the state will be providing information and suggestions on what people can do to combat obesity. 

 

OMMH recommends regular physical activity to control weight, help decrease the risk of colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure and promote healthy bones, muscles and joints.  The belief that physical activity is limited to exercise or sports sometimes keeps people from being active. However, physical activity does not have to be strenuous to be beneficial.  Moderate intensity activities such as household chores, gardening and walking can also provide health benefits. 

 

For more information on the benefits of physical activity, as well as information on “Take a Walk for Life” and Minority and Multicultural Health Month activities, visit DHSS’s Office of Minority and Multicultural Health at http://nj.gov/cgi-bin/dhss/omh/events.pl. 

 

Minority and Multicultural Health Month was first celebrated in New Jersey in 1994. It is a month during which the health of the minority communities of New Jersey is highlighted and information and resources are made available so that people can take action to improve their health.  

 

Residents are encouraged to join one of the many community-based organizations throughout New Jersey that plans to host a walk on Saturday, September 18.

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