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The Unhealthiest Borough: 75% of Staten Islanders Overweight, BP Says

By Nicholas Rizzi | March 17, 2014 8:35am
 Oddo announced a new director for the Health and Wellness Office on Friday.
Borough President James Oddo Announces Push to Make Staten Islanders healthier.
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ST. GEORGE — Staten Island is the unhealthiest borough.

More than 75 percent of island residents are overweight or obese, they're more likely to smoke than other New York City dwellers and they're 33 percent more likely to have heart disease, Borough President James Oddo said.

The figures have forced Oddo to launch a full-scale health campaign.

"The cold hard truth is that we as a community are not as healthy as we could be," Oddo said. "Just about every health and wellness indicator for our community is pointing toward the wrong direction.

"This is personal to me because I see my father having endured a lifetime of illness that's absolutely heartbreaking. I want to do all I can to have Staten Islanders and their loved ones avoid the pain that my family has dealt with."

On Friday, he announced his hiring of Dr. Ginny Mantello as the borough's health and wellness director.

Mantello, a neuroradiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, said her office will look to hold wellness fairs and information sessions in schools and make physical activity and wellness programs more accessible.

"I think that the message here should be lifestyle choices can make all the difference," Mantello said. "Good health actually comes with good choices.

"We need to go out there and teach our children. We need to teach them how important this is so that healthy lifestyle becomes a part of their culture.

"We hope that ultimately we will make Staten Islanders not only live a healthier, but a longer more productive life."

At Friday's announcement, Oddo introduced high school student Joseph DeCasperis, 16. He lost 100 pounds in a year and posts about his recipes and path to fitness as JoesLightBites on social networks.

"Health and wellness is a big part of my life," DeCasperis said. "I want to encourage youth and teens that they can do it and I'm living proof."