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Walk around Belmont Lake draws attention to public health issues

Acting State Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, left,

Acting State Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, left, talks with Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) during a "Walk in the Park" for better health at Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon Thursday, April 9, 2015. Credit: Barry Sloan

Dozens of people marked National Public Health Week by walking a mile around Belmont Lake State Park Thursday.

It was cold and gray, but that didn't dampen the resolve of Nicole Smith, 44, of Freeport.

The stay-at-home mom, who teaches Zumba classes, said she's made exercising and eating healthy a top family priority.

"We're trying to start early," she said. "We don't want to get the diseases in the first place."

Smith was joined at the North Babylon park by daughters Jordyn, 14, and Bailee, 8, son Brian, 10, and a cousin, Preston, 8.

Participating in the event were acting state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, state Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey, state Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James L. Tomarken, Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Nassau Legis. Rose Marie Walker (R-Hicksville) and officials from the Long Island Health Collaborative.

As part of a state mandate, representatives from Long Island's 24 hospitals, both county health departments, academic centers and community groups began meeting more than two years ago to focus on top health problems. That includes obesity. In Nassau, nearly 21 percent of adults are obese; in Suffolk, the rate is about 28 percent, according to the state health department.

Part of the collaborative's plan is to work with doctors to convince more patients to walk for their health.

Zucker said it's the easiest form of exercise. "All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes," he said.


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