In an effort to boost weight loss in Stanislaus County, the Board of Supervisors joined the Healthy Eating Living Cities Campaign on March 4, making them the first county in the state to do so.
Healthy Eating Living is a statewide campaign that provides training and technical assistance to help officials adopt policies that improve nutritional choices and increase physical activity in the community. For example a city or county as in this case, committed to the campaign would adopt a general plan or zoning ordinances that promote walking and biking trails or a program that brings more fresh fruits and vegetables into low-income neighborhoods.
"These are extremely exciting times," said County Health Officer Dr. John Walker, who made a plea to the Board of Supervisors urging them to join the HEAL Campaign. "The HEAL resolutions solidify the commitment of each city and the county to build healthy communities. It's the foundation for future plans aimed at reducing obesity and the burden of chronic diseases in Stanislaus County."
In California, where more than half the adult population is obese or overweight, the obesity epidemic is costing the state over $50 billion and Stanislaus County nearly $1 billion a year in health care costs and lost productivity.
The rate of individuals considered overweight or obese in Stanislaus County is far above the state average. The latest health survey found 65 percent of the adults in the county are either overweight or obese. Teens had a rate of 27 percent and obesity in children was at 17 percent.
Obesity can cause other severe health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The California Public Health Department released the "County Health Status Profiles 2013" and Stanislaus County was found to have death rates higher than the state average in multiple classifications of chronic diseases. Based on the report, Stanislaus County was ranked in the bottom third of all counties for diabetes (43rd); coronary heart disease (58th); and strokes (42nd).
"Obesity is an epidemic in our county, and if we care about the well-being of our children and grandchildren, we must work toward eliminating it," said Supervisor Jim De Martini. "Significant environmental changes are necessary to support individual efforts to make healthier choices. Stanislaus County is excited to take this challenge and work with our cities to set a regional example."