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Schenectady County is ready to trim the fat

Schenectady County officials want to help residents lose weight.

Obesity is, of course, a real issue countrywide, and it certainly is a concern in Schenectady County as well, said Carolyn Callner, deputy commissioner of health for the Schenectady County Public Health Department.

Schenectady County was recently approved for a state grant of $34,000 on top of the $150,000 they will receive annually for the next four years to help residents get in shape.

Callner said the county will combine the funding with another grant received from the Center for Disease Control.

According to data from the New York State Expanded Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 43 percent of men and 29.6 percent of women in Schenectady County are obese. Statewide, 39.2 percent of men and 30.1 percent of women are obese.

Callner said that the county also received a grant from the Center for Disease Control that is called the Strategic Alliance for Health, which is a grant that requires the health department to form alliances with community organizations to "effect policy and changes to the general environment that will encourage healthy lifestyles."

She said health department officials are also going to encourage alliances and community groups to promote healthy eating, including promoting eating and growing vegetables and participating in community gardens.

"We're going to take the obesity money, and we're giving it out in small mini-grants to community organizations that combat obesity by promoting physical activity and good nutrition," said Callner.

Schenectady County Legislator Karen Johnson, D-Schenectady, said that the county is spending the bulk of the money from the CDC to work with the community as well, and she plans to inform many agencies of this funding as a resource.

"It could be [used for] teaching kids how to cook, [or] anything that promotes at healthy lifestyle, and it's just been in the paper in the last few days that obesity is costing us billions of dollars and poor health outcomes," said Johnson.

"Obesity is at epidemic levels, and the Schenectady data is not good," said Johnson. "We're trying to look at our community to make it a healthier place. We want to vaccinate people, encourage good eating and lifestyles. We want to encourage everyone to be as healthy as they can be and that's why we're looking into grants like this."

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