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Newark Councilman Darrin Shariff's fitness event highlights obesity in children

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A couple of years ago, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Newark's Maple Avenue School. Maple Avenue school attracted the First Lady because the school addressed Newark's epidemic childhood obesity problem by setting up initiatives. These initiatives were designed to promote healthy eating and exercise.

According to the New Jersey Childhood Obesity Survey published by Rutgers State Health Policy Center, Newark children are more likely to be overweight or obese compared to their national counterparts. Here are some alarming statistics:

*Rates of overweight and obesity are highest among the youngest and those in middle childhood: 45 % of 3 to 5 year olds are overweight or obese in Newark vs. 21 percent nationally; 47% of children ages 6 to 11 are overweight or obese in Newark vs. 36% nationally.

In response to the obesity epidemic occurring in Newark, New Jersey, Councilman Darrin S. Shariff held a fitness event at the Nat Turner Park. Several fitness activities were scheduled for the morning including Zumba, football and track & field events.

According to a representative from Mr. Shariff's office, the event was created to raise awareness about the obesity epidemic in Newark and to get the children out of the house and into the park where they can take part in various fitness exercises.

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center was on hand to provide information on nutrition, fitness, stroke prevention & heart health. According to their representatives, the obesity issues has reached epidemic proportions. "The emergency room is full of patients with issues that have a direct correlation to obesity".

Clearly, from this event and others just like it, Newark residents need more education on fitness, health & nutrition if we have any chance of combatting the obesity problem in Newark.

Valerie Persaud


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