Kern County has more cases of heart disease than any other county in California. And the Public Health Department says even if your health isn't affected, your wallet definitely is.
The produce section may look lovely, but most of us don't spend as much time there as we should. According to the Kern County Department of Public Health, the obesity rate in kern is no longer a problem, it's an epidemic. "We've spent a lot of time on some of the more imminent health risks with H1N1 and west nile virus, and those are real health risks. But they dwarf in comparison to the risk presented on a daily basis by heart disease and obesity," said Matt Constantine.
Six out of every ten Kern County residents are overweight or obese so the department is putting out a "call to action." In a summit November, they'll bring together as many business owners, school officials and community members as they can.
Tim Terrio, CEO of Terrio Therapy, who's on the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce Board, is in charge of the business domain. "The healthier people are, the less people access services, and you can control your costs," said Terrio. They'll be asking businesses to start offering healthy snacks so that when employees become tempted, they'll have options besides the candy and cookies you normally find in vending machines. "Things like creating walking paths around the business. Can we have fruits and vegetables available? Water sources. Everything down to do you encourage employees to take their vacation time," said Terrio.
Organizers of the obesity task force say it's in everyone's interest to help these changes permeate our community. "Not only for their well being but for the costs, health care costs are just tremendous. And we're going to be paying a portion of that. There's no reason we shouldn't be happier, healthier and more productive," said Constantine.
The summit will be November 16 at the Marriot and the public is invited to attend.