ALBANY, N.Y. - Two huge billboards will go up in an attempt to gain attention of Capital Region residents that eating cheese poses a health risk and contributes to the area's high obesity rates. The billboards are sponsored by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
One billboard, to be located at Route 378, half a mile west of the I-787 expressway, shows a man's obese belly beside the words, "Your abs on cheese." The other, at the intersection of Route 9 and Route 20, features an overweight woman and the words, "Your thighs on cheese."
New York State is one of the nation's largest producers of dairy products, and Albany County is home to several dairy farms.
One message PCRM is trying to get across with the billboards, is that dairy-heavy school lunches need reform to cut down on childhood obesity.
PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., has written a letter to members of the Albany city school board, asking the city to cut down on dairy products served in schools to help students reduce the risk of childhood obesity. PCRM says school lunches in Albany include an abundance of cheesy foods such as chicken parmesan and lasagna with three different types of cheese, and cheese pizzas which are available daily.
"Typical cheeses are 70 percent fat," Dr. Barnard says. "And the type of fat they hold is mainly saturated fat—the kind that increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Cheese is also loaded with cholesterol and sodium. Americans eat more than 33 pounds of cheese per person per year—three times more than they did in 1970—and our country is more obese than ever."
PCRM says more than 59 percent of New York State's residents are either overweight or obese. The figures are even higher in Albany County, where nearly 63 percent of adult residents are overweight or obese.
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