State Health Commissioner, Ulster County Officials Highlight Calorie Posting Obesity Prevention Initiative

KINGSTON, N.Y. (April 5, 2011) – New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., was joined by Ulster County officials Tuesday as they showcased a new "I Choose 600" obesity prevention campaign at the Hudson Valley Mall in Kingston.

The event was part of Commissioner Shah's six-county tour in recognition of National Public Health Week, during which he is drawing attention to the State's highest public health priorities and showcasing effective local initiatives that are addressing them. Commissioner Shah was joined at the mall food court by Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and County Health Commissioner La Mar Hasbrouck, M.D., MPH.

The three highlighted the "I Choose 600" obesity prevention campaign, launched in late February, to help people make healthier food choices at fast food restaurants. The program, which will run through June, encourages New Yorkers to check the calorie counts of foods served by fast food restaurants and choose meals that total 600 calories or less.

Currently, nearly two-thirds of adult New Yorkers and one-third of children are overweight or obese.

"Research shows that the obesity epidemic is the result of people consuming too many calories," said Dr. Shah. "Most adults can maintain a healthy weight by eating 2,000 or fewer calories a day. Choosing a 600-calorie meal will help people maintain a healthy weight when they're at a fast food restaurant. Most families eat at least one-third of their daily calories away from home, so strategies to eat healthy are essential."

Under local laws, fast food and chain restaurants in Albany, Schenectady, Ulster and Suffolk counties and New York City are required to post the calories of all foods they serve. In the summer of 2012, federal law will require all fast food chains to post calorie counts of the foods they serve. On April 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released draft calorie posting requirements for vending machines and restaurants (see

Ulster County Executive Hein said, "Consumers are becoming more interested in what they choose to eat; however, more work needs to be done. We need to accelerate awareness of healthier food choices and that is why we are here today. Reversing the obesity epidemic and achieving our goal of making Ulster the healthiest county in New York State is a substantial challenge. It's going to take an ongoing effort by everyone in our community to achieve success and I'm confident we can get the job done."

Ulster County Public Health Commissioner Hasbrouck said, "Obesity and its related health risks have reached epidemic proportions in our nation and right here in Ulster County. The good news is that we have the leadership, talent, creativity, and willingness to change what is required to confront this issue and prevail."

Through the "I Choose 600" campaign, the State Department of Health (DOH) and participating counties are encouraging people to use calorie information posted in fast food and chain restaurants as a guide to eating a healthy diet that contains fewer calories. Dr. Shah noted that many fast food restaurants offer healthy, lower-calorie food options, and people who make smart choices to limit calorie consumption can maintain a healthy weight or even lose some pounds.

By raising public awareness about food choices and urging people to cut down on calories, the "I Choose 600" campaign serves as a tool to help reduce obesity, diabetes, certain types of cancers and other health risks associated with obesity.

The campaign includes billboards, bus advertisements, radio spots, a Facebook page (, and displays at mall food courts.

Healthy eating is one of 10 priorities in the State's Prevention Agenda Toward the Healthiest State (, an innovative project launched in 2008 to improve the health of all New Yorkers. The strategy calls for active collaboration among state and local partners, working together to prevent disease, enhance community health planning, and achieve measurable progress toward meeting public health goals.

More than half the counties in the state selected increasing the amount of physical activity and improving nutrition as local priorities. About half these counties have begun planning or already have implemented programs to address these concerns and are working to implement evidence-based strategies.

For the complete list of events on Commissioner Shah's Public Health Week schedule, visit: