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Multiple solutions needed to end obesity epidemic

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Close to 60 percent of New Yorkers are overweight or obese. This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he would take steps to fight the obesity epidemic in the state.

New York state ranks second nationwide for medical expenditures related to obesity issues. One researcher says solutions to the problem should include both public health efforts and individualized treatment.

Dr. Stephen Cook is the associate director of the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight. He says doctors should use patient-centered language to talk to people about their weight.

"I think it’s really import to look at more effective communication strategies, meeting patients where they’re at," said Cook.

He says there are several factors that contribute to the disease, including biological factors and personal choices. But also a lack of public understanding about what healthy eating actually entails.

"No one markets a food as being unhealthy. So, you really can’t find the truth in it. If you perceive, 'I know this bag of chips isn’t healthy, but maybe this bag is healthier.' But the reality is the difference between the healthier bag of chips and a serving of fruit is huge," said Cook.

This week, Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker is visiting community organizations that promote healthy eating and exercise.