Albany – Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (Brooklyn-51 AD) is starting off the 2009 legislative session by re-introducing a series of bills aimed at increasing wellness by encouraging informed, healthy citizens. The Assemblyman has a long history of leading the fight against childhood obesity. Several years ago he sponsored the law creating New York’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Program, and for the last 5 years has sponsored landmark legislation requiring menu labeling and imposing a tax to fight obesity.
“In his State of the State Address, Governor Paterson himself highlighted the importance of healthy children to our state. Childhood obesity is often the start of a life riddled with health problems and high health care costs. I am pleased the Governor has adopted my proposals as a key component of his effort to change the unhealthy environment our children live in so they and their families can make healthier choices,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz is moving to re-introduce his package of obesity prevention bills. They include legislation to require that certain restaurants post the caloric value of their food and ban the use of trans fats. He is also bringing back his legislation that will tax certain food items such as sodas. His proposal is similar to the Governor’s, but also taxes other high calorie, low nutrient foods along with video games, commercials and movies. Other legislation, in addition to encouraging a healthy diet, would enhance physical education requirements in all elementary and secondary schools.
Health care costs accounted for 16% of United States G.D.P. in 2008 and continue to increase at an alarming level. Health care experts nationally call for increased prevention as a crucial step to curbing these cost increases. Both President Obama and his nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, former Senator Tom Daschle have stressed the importance of prevention to both the health of the U.S. Economy and the health of its citizens.
“What we have in the United States is wonderful sick care. If you have a heart attack, our fine hospitals do a fantastic job of getting you back on your feet. What we are falling behind in is true health care. My legislation is a step towards increasing the emphasis on maintaining true health in our New York communities,” said Ortiz.