Collaborative efforts target obesity in North State
Colusa County residents may need to watch their weight if they want to avoid being linked to the growing number of people dying from cancer, heart disease and stroke.
DeAnne Blankenship, research and development project manager for the California Health Collaborative said the death rate from cancer for Colusa, Glenn and Tehama counties is 156.2 per 100,000 people.
That is above the state rate of 151.7 per 100,000.
"The leading cause of death is heart disease," said Blankenship, at a recent Community Partners health forum, sponsored by Glenn Medical Center. "The second cause is cancer." The population of Colusa, Glenn and Tehama counties were combined for the report to make data more reliable, Blankenship said.
Cancer strikes about 509 people per 100,000 people in the region — above the state rate of 474 per 100,000.
About 50 people die each year, she said.
Cindy Brattan Wolff, director of the Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion at California State University, Chico, said obesity is fast becoming a leading cause of diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, a constellation of illnesses that could overwhelm an already overburdened health care system.
"About 64 percent of adults (in the region) are either overweight or obese, which is similar to the national average," Wolff said. "However, 41 percent of children are overweight or obese, compared to a national rate of 32 percent."
California's obesity rate is about 23 percent.
Wolff's finding are similar to a 124-page report released last week by The Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation titled, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future."
According to the report, more than half of all Americans are expected to be obese by 2030, resulting in millions of new cases of diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, which could cost the United States up to $66 billion in treatment and over $500 billion in lost economic productivity.
If obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, by 2030, 13 states could have adult obesity rates above 60 percent, 39 states could have rates above 50 percent, and all 50 states could have rates above 44 percent, the report states.
By 2030, Mississippi is expected to lead the country with the highest rate of adult obesity at 67 percent.
California would be 46th in the nation with an obesity rate of 47 percent.
Colorado would remain the leanest state, but about 45 percent of adults would be obese, up from 21 percent today, the report states.
The report also explored a scenario based on states successfully lowering adult obesity rates.
It found that if states could reduce the average body mass index of residents by just 5 percent by 2030, every state could help thousands or millions of people avoid obesity-related diseases, while saving billions of dollars in health care costs.
For a 6 foot tall person weighing 200 pounds, a 5 percent reduction in the body mass index would be the equivalent of losing roughly 10 pounds, the report states.
With a 5 percent reduction in BMI overall, the number of Americans who could be spared from developing major obesity-related diseases would range from 14,389 in Alaska to 796,430 in California with Type 2 diabetes; 11,889 in Alaska to 656,970 in California with coronary heart disease and stroke, 10,826 in Alaska to 698,431 in California with hypertension and 809 in Alaska to 52,769 in California with obesity-related cancer.
Nearly every state could save between 6.5 percent and 7.9 percent in health care costs, according to Jeff Levi, executive director of The Trust for America's Health, which would equate to savings ranging from $81.7 billion in California to $1.1 billion in Wyoming.
Florida, the only state that would save less than 6.5 percent in health care costs, could save 2.1 percent or $34 billion.
"We know a lot more about how to prevent obesity than we did 10 years ago," said Levi, in a statement. "This report outlines how policies like increasing physical activity time in schools and making fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable can help make healthier choices easier.
"Small changes can add up to a big difference," he said. "Policy changes can help make healthier choices easier for Americans in their daily lives."
Wolff said the Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion at Chico State offers a variety of local services, including nutrition education and physical promotion programs in school districts, CafFresh Outreach subcontracts with community organizations to increase family food purchases, and partnering with organizations like Farmers Markets to promote healthy food choices and the "Rethink your Drink" campaign.
Wolff said new guidelines on healthy eating recommend increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables to nine servings a day, while reducing consumption of refined and processed foods.
Eliminating sugary sodas is also recommended.