BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Brooklyn goes on a mass diet
One of the many temptations in Brooklyn
Slim down and shape up. That's what residents in one part of New York City are being told to do.

The entire borough of Brooklyn is trying to lose a total of two and a half million pounds during a two month diet as part of the new "Lighten Up, Brooklyn" campaign.

But, as Jane Standley reports, in a neighbourhood famous for its high-calorie desserts, it's hard to stick to slimming.

Marty Markowitz, president of the borough of Brooklyn, wants to lose weight.

But he doesn't want to stop there - he wants everybody in the neighbourhood to follow suit.

Marty Markowitz
Marty Markowitz devised the scheme
At lunchtimes he leads a pack of fellow dieters through the busy streets of downtown Brooklyn on a power walk.

"I want people who live here to live longer and happier," he told me.

Marty has his work cut out. It is estimated that 80% of adult Americans are overweight.

And there is no magic formula for success: just encouraging people to take more exercise and eat less food.

However, Marty believes that people stand more chance of shedding the pounds if they do it together.

"I know in order to go on a diet, it's easier to have someone else joining you.

"So I thought why not a whole borough of two and a half million people?

"Sounds good to me - we need to give each other comfort and support - and I think that's what many Brooklynites are doing."

Heavy toll

There is no doubt that many New Yorkers need to lose weight for the sake of their health.

Just because you are taking care of yourself and losing weight doesn't mean you can't eat out at a restaurant

Alan Rosen
The state of New York has the highest number of deaths from coronary heart disease in America.

Perhaps it's not surprising - given that New Yorkers are known for living life to the fullest, and for finding it hard to resist some of the sinful delights on offer here.

Junior's Restaurant in Brooklyn specialises in sumptuous - and fattening - cheesecakes.

Owner Alan Rosen says Marty Markowitz has long been a good customer himself.

"He has put away a few cheesecakes in his day. I'm all for people being in good shape - and taking care of themselves.

"Just because you are taking care of yourself and losing weight doesn't mean you can't eat out at a restaurant - and have cheesecake.

"You just can't have it every day - and we have plenty of light alternatives for people."

Trial by scales

Mary Pradt is one of many who have found it difficult to resist temptation.

Marty wears the message on his t-shirt
She winces as she checks her weight at one of the 120 weigh in stations that have been set up across Brooklyn.

"It is such a good idea. The fact that they brought a weigh station right here - you know it's like somebody's trying to tell me something."

It's even worse on the same scales for 25-year-old student Gus Kennedy.

He weighs in at 268 lbs and is a prime candidate for diabetes - rates of which are now rocketing among America's young.

But he says he's committed to losing weight - and that the Lighten Up, Brooklyn campaign is just the incentive he needs.

"I have to lose weight before my next visit - I think i've got to shrink my stomach and start doing a little exercise."

See also:

18 Jun 98 | Health
America gets fatter
13 Mar 01 | Health
Philadelphia wages war on fat
22 Dec 00 | Health
'Obesity a world-wide hazard'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories