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Video: Dr. Oz in N.O. says we’re in charge of our own healthy destinies

October 14, 2011

Meg Farris / Medical Reporter

NEW ORLEANS — TV’s best known doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz, spent the day in the Crescent City with school children, Hurricane Katrina survivors and local doctors.

He was here to spread his health message and to change lives from Uptown to the Lower 9th Ward and many places in-between.

Sci High and McDonogh 35 students gave Dr. Oz an entertaining New Orleans welcome with a full choir and karate demonstration. And he gave back a gift that could be lifesaving, stories he sees as a heart surgeon.

One was of a young women with blockages in her coronary arteries.

“I never, in my life, thought I’d see that happen in people who are younger than 50. She was 25. I took her to the operating room. I did bypass surgery on her at age 25,” said Dr. Oz to the students from the podium in the school auditorium.

But Dr. Oz realized that fixing the clogged arteries in the O.R. at New York-Presbyterian Hospital wasn’t enough. He had to encourage people to love themselves enough to change.

“The next day, I went to visit her and in her room was her husband and her two little kids. In order to celebrate how well she was doing, they brought her a hamburger, a soda pop, and a large fries,” he told the audience as they gasped and laughed. “And I realized it was a catastrophe.”

And changing lifestyles is why he is a co-founder of HealthCorps.

“I got involved in HealthCorps and childhood obesity in part because I realized it was the tip of the iceberg. What it really reflected was that kids didn’t think they could control their destiny anymore,” he explained.

Young mentors are trained about their bodies, and then in schools across the U.S., to teach children and teens about the importance of putting healthful food into their bodies and staying away from harmful substances, such as tobacco and alcohol.

He wants them to have pride and amazement in their own biology and not to be influenced by harmful advertising messages.

“I think he was really great. He really touched on some great points and he really did a good job explaining how we need to have health in this city,” said Sci High sophomore Iyante Marshall.

“I learned that you’re nothing without your health first off and that, like, we are on the top five of being obese and that’s like horrible,” said Sci High sophomore Tia Westbrook.

“I really like the HealthCorps and I think there’s a lot of child suffering from obesity,” said Guy Geslin, a Sci High student.

“I learned that you can make a difference by yourself. You don’t need anybody to, you need people to motivate you but you can motivate yourself. If you want to do something, you can do it just by yourself,” said Sci High sophomore Devin Parker. Dr. Oz also went down to see one of the Brad Pitt Make It Right houses in the Lower 9th Ward. Through tears, homeowner Diedra Taylor told him of her Hurricane Katrina experiences.

Dr. Oz went to work on showing her how what’s in her refrigerator, could shorten her life.

“We have work to do with you. The healthiest thing in here is mustard,” he said.

Taylor laughed. “The one thing I don’t (like),” she said. “Well that goes with the corn dogs. My baby love those.”

From the pecan ice-cream to the sausage for the red beans and rice to the high-sugar drinks masquerading as healthful, Dr. Oz gave Taylor a lifesaving lesson. She in turn gave Dr. Oz one of the Lower 9th Ward t-shirts she designed.

Dr. Oz also took time to meet with Tulane doctors and the city health director over lunch at Covenant House.

He thanked Evamor Natural Artesian Water for its support of HealthCorps and he toured the city’s new biomedical district.

One New Orleanian who greeted him remembers working in the public relations department at New York Presbyterian with Dr. Oz back in the late 1990s, when she was expecting her now 11-year-old daughter, Annabel Bailey, and Anne Johnsen Bailey says Dr. Oz always enjoyed working with the media.

Some local people are in the running to win a million dollars in Dr. Oz’s Transformation Nation contest. Eyewitness News plans to follow their weight loss and health changes.


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