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New Yorkers urged to get off the couch, exercise more

Ellen Abbott
New York State Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker at an event in Syracuse.

New York state's acting health commissioner is touring the state this week, advising New Yorkers to get off the couch and get some exercise.

Acting Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says the tour is grounded in these statistics from the New York State Department of Health: Just over a quarter of New Yorkers are obese and another 36 percent are overweight. The numbers aren't much better for children. Thirty-two percent of public school students between the ages of six and 12 across the state are either overweigh or obese.

"We pass along a lot of things to our children. We pass along our genes. We pass along our heirlooms. We pass along our interests. And we can't afford to pass along our lifestyles," Zucker said.

During a stop in Syracuse on Tuesday, Zucker said getting those numbers down is especially important for children.

"They'll have conditions that will last a longer time, because if they have diabetes earlier, they have a longer lifetime. And the complications that will occur will surely occur," Zucker said.

Zucker advises parents to get kids outside where they can get some exercise, noting that research shows children spend an average of eight hours a day in front of a screen of some kind.

In central New York, Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta says 55 percent of adults and 32 percent of children are overweight and obese in Onondaga County. She hopes an information campaign can spread the message.

"You take one person to motivate another person. That person will motivate another person. So we create a chain link, and then we can motivate a community," Gupta said.

The state is there to help if New Yorkers are looking for ideas about eating right and staying fit.

Zucker says the state will be tweeting tips all week with the hashtag #GetFitNYS.