Coronavirus News: Long Island battles 'quarantine 15' with town-wide diet

HUNTINGTON, Long Island (WABC) -- A lack of exercise and poor eating habits associated with stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic are plaguing many residents, with some dubbing the weight gain the "quarantine 15."

Now, one part of Long Island is taking steps to remedy the situation with a town-wide diet.

Suffolk County Health Committee Chair Legislator Dr. William Spencer and Huntington Clerk Andrew Raia joined Huntington Hospital's Director of Bariatric Surgery Dr. David Buchin Wednesday to unveil the details of the program, aimed to get people healthier so that if they catch the virus, they'll increase their chances of survival.

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

The diet includes a healthy lifestyle and exercise program to combat the "quarantine 15" that residents may have experienced during the lockdown.

The Town of Huntington, with over 200,000 residents, will be the first Long Island municipality to put residents on a diet. The program is voluntary.

Facebook live instructions came from Dr. Buchin on nutrition and exercise, because the stay at home initiative -- while designed to protect the public --has also weighed heavy on our minds and bodies.

"And as a result of that increased stress, we're seeing a lot of emotional eating," Dr. Spencer said.

They're reminding people to eat less fast food and carbs in favor of more healthy fruits and vegetables.

"The Quarantine 15, the weight people on average have gained during this lockdown," Dr. Buchin said.

Intelligent Fitness in East Northport is also offering a sample online class, after the gym is already giving away 40% of its workout equipment to its members so they can stay healthy with virtual classes.

"We crashed an entire economy because of health and wellness," Intelligent Fitness' Phil Sottile said. "Let's not let this moment pass us by."

The message was clear: Don't let one concern for public health create yet another.

The rate of obesity in the United State now exceeds 35% in nine states, and these obesity-related conditions are very serious risk factors in COVID-19 cases.

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