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Study: Obesity Becoming A Big Problem On Long Island

LYNBROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There is some discouraging analysis coming from doctors and hospitals across Long Island.

The region is lagging behind the rest of the state when it comes to eating enough fruits and vegetables, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Thursday.

Buying broccoli is more expensive than a bag of chips.

"People eat a lot of fast food because it's easy," one woman said.

Although more farm markets are moving into underserved areas of Long Island, it is barely making a difference, experts say.

"Obesity has become the number one public health problem in our country today," Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen said.

Long Island obesity
New analysis suggests Long Islanders are eating too few vegetables and that has contributed directly to obesity problems. (Photo: CBS2)

At a recent health fair in Lynbrook, members of the 1969 world champion Amazin' Mets, first baseman Ed Kranepool and outfielder Art Shamsky, inspired those who are working to stay active, including the Long Island Harmonica Club band.

"After I got through playing professional baseball I realized that as I was getting older that I wanted to stay in better shape and wanted to live longer. Part of that is eating right and doing the exercise," Shamsky said.

"I'm retired from baseball, but certainly I'm still active every day in the business world," Kranepool added.

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The former Mets stars said they were discouraged to learn that Long Islanders are consuming fewer fruits and vegetables compared with other regions in the state.

According to a new analysis from the Long Island Health Collaborative, habits need to change, beginning with heads of households.

"If you chop up the fruit or the vegetables and put it out in a bowl the children are more likely to eat that," said the Collaborative's Janine Logan.

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Now lobbying for better access to affordable fresh -- not fast -- food, which can change behaviors and open minds.

Be a good role model. If you are eating fruits and vegetables, studies show your habits will carry over to the rest of the family. And if you don't like a particular food, why say so?

Parents are being urged to use fruits in frosty drinks and veggies as snacks -- with a dip, if needed.

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