EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 5, 2013

Lawrence starts program to fight obesity

LAWRENCE — Peter Blanchette cited some disturbing statistics about health in the city yesterday.

In Lawrence, close to 45 percent of children and about 69 percent of adults are overweight or obese, said Blanchette, agent to the city’s Board of Health, which puts them at a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, and low self-esteem. These problems costs Massachusetts $1.8 billion in medical care, he said.

The bad news was followed by good tidings. Mayor William Lantigua, members of the Mayor’s Health Task Force, Board of Health and local agencies implemented a seven page Healthy Active Living Resolution during the farmer’s market at Campagnone Common.

“Being healthy is not about losing weight and looking good,” Lantigua said. “It’s about living well and feeling good.” For his part, the mayor said he tries to eat healthy. Although he does not have an exercise plan, he walks as much as possible and uses the treadmill at home whenever he can.

Making fresh fruits and vegetables accessible to residents and encouraging them to exercise was the consensus of the group.

Vilma Lora, coordinator of the Mayor’s Health Task Force said in the past agencies were offering programs aimed at combating obesity and its health related illnesses. The Healthy Active Living Resolution brings it all together.

“We have to make the community we live in a healthy one,” Lora said. “But it doesn’t just have to rely on us, people can join a gym, get support from their relatives and people they know. We will be coordinating and working collectively.”

Senior Center director Martha Velez said they offer a basic exercise class daily at 8:30 a.m. attended by 70 to 80 members. The center also hosts mambo fitness, Caribbean rhythm and zumba classes for people 18 and older in the afternoon.

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