Tuesday, June 5, 2012

State Sen. Gustavo Rivera kicks off part two of Bronx health initiative, agrees people need less soda

By Corinne Lestch / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

This state senator is all for Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial soda ban.
Gustavo Rivera (D-West Bronx) kicked off the second part of his Bronx CAN (Changing Attitudes Now) health initiative, co-sponsored by Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., on Saturday, which has helped hundreds of Bronxites kick poor eating habits.
Stephen Ritz, a veteran teacher who was born and raised in the Bronx, said he lost 93 pounds since starting the informal program that includes public weigh-ins and community health fairs.
“What I love about the Bronx CAN initiative is, it’s really about replacing bad habits with good habits in small incremental steps,” said Ritz, who runs the Bronx Green Machine, a sustainable environment program for teens. “That is the basis for long-term success.”
A man who used to eat two bagels each morning and two liters of soda a day, Ritz now echoes the main tenets of Rivera’s good-eats gospel: “smaller portions, less fat, less sugar, lots of water.”
Last Thursday, Bloomberg announced a push for retailers - from movie theaters to corner bodegas - to ban the sale of sugary drinks more than 16 ounces.
“I think it’s a step forward, because what the mayor is trying to do is think about the long-term impact of making changes,” said Rivera, who compared the idea to banning smoking in public places, another Bloomberg idea.
“Think about it - a 32-ounce cup of soda is 27 packets of sugar.”
Rivera started publicly weighing himself last June after the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s annual report revealed the Bronx failed its annual checkup - the borough came in last of healthiest places in the state.
“Me putting myself on a scale, it was a little shocking,” said the pol, who weighed in at 300 pounds at the start and has kept about 30 pounds off since then. “It was just kind of a wake-up call.”
During the next year of the initiative, Rivera hopes to lose 20 more pounds and there will be free exercise and health fairs, including zumba lessons, for the Bronx community.
There are also three pieces of health legislation currently being considered in the state assembly and senate.
For more information or to get involved, call (212) 933-2034.

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