New York town urges residents to go on a diet to fend off the 'quarantine 15'

Officials in Huntington, New York, say that people have been stress eating and it's important to stay in good shape during the crisis. "This virus is going to be with us for some time."
/ Source: TODAY

Officials in Huntington, New York, want people to combat the coronavirus by going on a diet.

During a press conference Wednesday, lawmakers and health officials encouraged residents to eat healthy and work out to offset any weight they may have gained while quarantined, which they hope can keep citizens from getting sick.

“As a result of the increased stress we’re seeing a lot of emotional eating,” said Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer, who is also a doctor specializing in otolaryngology.

“I myself have put on a few pounds,” he added.

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Citizens can take part in the voluntary program, which will feature online exercise and yoga classes and virtual talks about how to eat well.

“We need to take charge of the situation," Spencer said.

Huntington Clerk Andrew Raia said it’s essential to remain in good shape while the coronavirus continues to exist.

"Set a new lifestyle for yourself, take the necessary steps to turn things around,” he said. "Because this virus is going to be with us for some time."

“We have to not let this take control over us. And we’re bringing attention to this issue because the quality of our health is more important than ever,” Spencer said.

Spencer outlined some of the simple steps people can take to stay healthy, which may have the added benefit of keeping the coronavirus at bay.

“It’s important that you get out and exercise, cut back on the junk food. Get ample sleep. Hydrate. And that’s something that you can do besides social distancing and staying at home to kind of protect yourself from Covid-19,” he said.

Dr. David Buchin, director of bariatric surgery at Huntington Hospital, who will oversee the program, calls the weight people have gained while remaining at home the “quarantine 15.”

“I’m hoping that we start off with Huntington and it kind of spreads across the country because it’s a very serious thing,” he said, while also noting that obesity kills roughly 300,000 Americans annually.