AHA state budget wish list would save health costs and improve health

As the April 1 deadline looms for this year’s state budget, the American Heart Association calls on the state Legislature to keep the health of New Yorkers in the forefront.

Two-thirds of New Yorkers are overweight or obese, costing the state $11.8 billion in medical costs. Two initiatives that the American Heart Association has advocated to have in the budget would help New Yorkers combat obesity: The Empire State Trail and funding the Healthy Food, Healthy Communities Fund.

The $200 million that Gov. Cuomo has proposed to create the nation’s largest multi-use trail, would provide 750 miles of safe and attractive trail where people could walk, bike, push a baby stroller, rollerblade – or engage in any kind of activity they like. Groups like Parks and Trails New York, the Open Space Institute, Scenic Hudson, and the retailer REI, have also supported the trail.

The Healthy Food, Healthy Communities Program would provide funding to establish markets in areas where people have limited access to healthy food. It’s estimated that 1.7 million New Yorkers lack access to stores with healthy food options. Low-income neighborhoods have 50 percent fewer supermarkets than healthy neighborhoods.

“Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 5 killers of all Americans,” said Bob Elling, paramedic and chair of the New York State Advocacy Committee of the American Heart Association. “Investing in the Empire State Trail and the Healthy Food Healthy, Communities Fund could save New York real money in health-related expenses, while helping all New Yorkers live longer, healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”

In addition, the AHA would like to see Brianna’s Law included in the budget, providing for CPR training every two years for all police officers.

The American Heart Association urges all New Yorkers to contact their elected officials to ask for this funding.

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