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September 24, 2010 > Grant awarded to fight obesity

Grant awarded to fight obesity

Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell, Laurel Anderson and Joy Alexiou

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department has been awarded $3.6M of a $31M grant through the Affordable Care Act to expand its Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The two-year grant will expand county-wide obesity prevention efforts through collaboration with local partners and community coalitions and will focus on increased physical activity and safe places to play, as well as access to healthier foods and dietary education.

The collaborative will create policy, systems and environmental changes with the ultimate goal of reducing the burden of chronic diseases for those living in Santa Clara County.

"As obesity costs continue to drain our dwindling public funds, this grant will allow us to be more aggressive and more creative in addressing this issue," said Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Ken Yeager. "I hope this grant will help us inspire other jurisdictions and partners to join us in battling an epidemic that has reached crisis-level."

The Communities Putting Prevention to Work award for obesity prevention will focus on two main strategies. First, promoting healthy eating through greater availability and consumption of nutritious food/drink choices. Second, more opportunities for physical activity by working with land use and transportation planners.

These strategies can lead to changes that improve health. The 2010 Health Profile report for Santa Clara County revealed that 50 percent of adults and 25 percent of children are overweight or obese. Excessive weight and obesity have been shown to lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases.

"Investments like this are critical in helping our community tackle serious health challenges such as childhood obesity," said Dan Peddycord, Director of the Public Health Department. "This funding helps us continue our work in promoting physical activities and healthy eating."

The obesity prevention initiative will strive to promote safe and active transit (bicycling and walking) through adoption of Complete Streets and Safe Routes to Schools policies designed to create inviting and livable communities. The initiative will also promote less consumption of sugar-rich drinks through expansion of the Rethink Your Drink Campaign which is designed to transfer an individual's focus from high-calorie sodas and fruit drinks as beverage choices to healthier alternatives such as water. Another component of the obesity initiative is improved access to healthy foods through food and beverage policies. The impact of this initiative will move the county closer to being a model community of healthy living.

"Being healthy begins with eating well, playing safe and healthy work environments," stated Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Health Officer for Santa Clara County. "We don't always consider the conditions that exist in our homes, neighborhoods and workplaces as factors. With this grant we have the opportunity to create conditions that promote sustainable changes that will greatly enhance the health of our community."

The Communities Putting Prevention to Work awards provide communities with resources to create healthy choices for residents, such as increasing availability of healthy foods and beverages, improving access to safe places for physical activity, discouraging tobacco use and encouraging smoke-free environments.

Through a competitive grant process, the US Department of Health and Human Services awarded a total of $31M to 10 communities in eight states, as well as one award to a state health department. The release of these funds follows grants awarded in February and March 2010 of more than $491.8M in CPPW funds. Santa Clara County Public Health Department is only one of two communities to be funded for both obesity prevention and tobacco prevention and control initiatives in California.

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