Americans of all races tend to eat more and are less active than their ancestors, which is contributing to the obesity epidemic in the U.S. Recent statistics show that up to 66 percent of the U.S. population is overweight or obese. These weight trends are even more pronounced among African Americans and Latinos.

Eating a nutritious, low-fat diet and participating in regular exercise are the best steps anyone can take to prevent and treat obesity. Low-fat eating habits and regular physical activity not only aid in weight reduction, but can also reduce the risk of several chronic diseases. Reducing weight by just 5 to 10 percent may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

The recently upgraded wellness center at the Princeton Family YMCA offers health seekers an open, modern space where they can enjoy support and guidance from trained YMCA staff members. The “In This Together/Estamos Juntos En Esto” outreach initiative will provide resources to extend an invitation to our closest neighbors — those living in close proximity to the facility — to engage in a healthy lifestyle and be a part of the community center in their own backyard.

With support provided by Novo Nordisk through the Community Health Collaborative, the YMCA will create new healthy living opportunities for low-income families by offering 70 free three-month family memberships. The program will launch this month and will encourage the families to utilize all aspects of a YMCA membership to build a healthier lifestyle, including regular use of the wellness center, pool, and gymnasium. Participants will be encouraged to set specific health and fitness goals at the outset of the program, and progress toward these goals will be measured and encouraged during scheduled visits with YMCA fitness professionals. Additionally, various special events will be geared especially to participants, each tailored with a theme to introduce a different type of healthy activity or choice.

The Community Health Collaborative provides grants to local 501(c)3 organizations pursuing innovative, community-based approaches to improving urban health and wellness. The program’s launch comes off the findings of an in-depth community-needs assessment in which Novo Nordisk identified two priority areas — Healthy Lifestyle + Built Environment and Access to Healthy Foods — in which to best align the Company’s corporate giving with genuine community needs.

“Our first priority was to identify the critical challenges faced by communities around our U.S. offices, so that we could respond in a way that was not only important to Novo Nordisk, but even more important to our neighbors,” said Diana Blankman, Senior Director, U.S. Corporate Giving & Social Impact. “The need for more support in engendering healthy lifestyles aligns nicely with our own expertise and allows us to make an especially meaningful impact.”

As a cause-driven charitable organization, the YMCA is one of the few American organizations committed to reversing alarming nationwide health trends. More than 10,000 YMCAs across the country collectively give millions of Americans access to safe, inclusive opportunities for physical exercise and health literacy, with a particular focus on families.

If you or anyone you know would be interested in learning more about In This Together/Estamos Juntos En Esto, please contact Denise Soto, Development and Communication Director at 609-497-9622 x209.

Princeton Family YMCA, 59 Paul Robeson Place, Princeton. 609-497-9622. www.princetonymca.org.

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