Imperial County Voters Express Serious Concern about Obesity and Strong Support for Community Action to Promote Healthy Living

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obesityIMPERIAL COUNTY, CA—A survey of voters in rural California counties, including Imperial County, found broad agreement that obesity is a major problem and strong support for community action to prevent obesity and related chronic diseases. The survey, conducted in August 2012 by Field Research Corporation on behalf of the Public Health Institute (PHI), included over 150 individuals from Imperial County and found that 86% of Imperial County voters describe obesity as a “problem,” while 84% percent agree that the neighborhoods where people live affect their risk for obesity.

 

The survey was conducted in order to gather data from the public regarding which strategies were at the top of the priority list for the community. The field poll found that Imperial residents strongly support a community-wide approach to preventing obesity.

 

The poll also highlighted strong support for community actions intended to reduce consumption of soda and other sugary drinks, such as strengthening school nutrition standards to limit the sale of unhealthy foods and drinks (76%) and improving access to fresh drinking water in parks, schools, and public buildings (91%).

 

In many of California’s rural communities, the physical design of roads and streets makes walking or biking to school unsafe or impractical, but there is a movement in California that is working to change that.

 

The Department will be partnering with the City of Holtville to host a Safe Routes to School local update at Holtville City Hall on Monday February 25th. Speakers will include Lisa Cirill from California Active Communities and Kristin Haukom, from the California Department of Public Health. Daniel Torrez, CA4Health Program Supervisor at the Imperial County Public Health Department stated, “local residents are seeing the value of different sectors working together to create a healthier community.

 

That’s why it’s so important that public health staff works closely with local schools, organizations, businesses and other leaders to achieve goals like making it easier and safer for our kids to walk or bike to school.”

 

In addition, the field poll also found strong local support for the roles that Community Health Workers can play to help people manage chronic diseases and their risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In December 2012, the Imperial County Public Health Department’s CA4Health Program hosted the first Chronic Disease Self Management Program Training for community health workers, using curriculum developed at Stanford University. The eleven trained community health workers will take the information they received at the training and lead sessions where they will share the information with individuals in the community. The first training is scheduled to start in March for In-Home Support Services providers and clients.

 

Local data collected from recent health information surveys show that 74.2%1 (2007) of Imperial adults and 42%2 (2010) of its children and teens 2-20 years old were either obese or overweight. Imperial County is one of twelve rural California counties included in the survey that are also part of the CA4Health Community Transformation Grant initiative funded by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Public Health Institute. Imperial was awarded a five-year grant under CA4Health to implement proven strategies aimed at improving the health and well being of those living and working in the county.

For additional information regarding the Field Poll on Obesity in Rural Counties please contact Robert Berger, Project Director, CA4Health, at 510-285-5658 or atrobert.berger@phi.org . More information on the field poll is available athttp://www.phi.org/uploads/application/files/63q9h8uit5tk3ql29n0rmxw1a37347vusrtyjdpcgp35pmywpa.pdf.