Obesity Community Agency Assessment: The California Essay

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Obesity

Community Agency Assessment: The California Obesity Prevention Plan

As we have previously identified in our research, Los Angeles County is largely reflective of patterns throughout California and the United States concerning rates of adult and juvenile obesity. According to our research, this one of the most pressing public health crises in the United States today and, without intervention, will only continue to worsen. Our focus on the Los Angeles area is justified by the leap in obesity levels there between 1997 and 2005, a period within which the Los Angeles County Public Health agency reports that the average adult gained 6 pounds. (p. 1) This represents an alarming rise in obesity levels and validates the importance of such community groups as the California Obesity Prevention Plan program.

Agency Information:

The California Obesity Prevention Plan was prompted into existence by the view that obesity levels in the state have risen to levels that threaten public health. Connecting obesity to heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, COPP indicates that this has been stimulated both by poor nutrition habits and by relative inactivity. This informs its mission, which is to bring education and exercise regimens to those demographics which reflect the greatest level of need. Accordingly, the California Department of Public Health has developed what it refers to as "a vision for a healthier California. Governor Schwarzenegger developed a 10 Step Vision for a Healthy California and convened the Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity in September 2005 as a call to action to bring focus and momentum to the transformation that is needed to create the healthy California in which we all want to live." (Schwarzenegger et al., p. 1)

The Prevention Plan is accommodated by an organizational structure that echoes the state's previously successful efforts and reducing statewide tobacco use. Here, the state proposes to employ what it calls a multi-sectoral policy, which would involve the input and efforts of all sectors of California public and private life. This means reaching out to places of employment, to schools, to community-based public health agencies, to medical practitioners and to parents in the hopes of altering eating and exercise habits on all fronts.

The COPP identified several core areas of civic life which it intends to appeal to in order to ensure the proper support in promoting better eating and diversifying of activities. It notes that schools must be a leader in prevention efforts by meeting minimum state standards for physical education programs, creating attractive and accessible facilities for after-school recreation, providing healthy lunches which meet high nutritional and quality standards; providing access to the federal 'school breakfast program' for those who might not be able to afford breakfast at home; and only advertising healthy and local foods on school premises. (Schwarzenegger et al., p. 2)

This also helps to direct our attention toward the populations served. There is a clear emphasis on protecting youth from the implications of lifelong obesity, a primary feature of the program's preventative implications. This population is further magnified by the emphasis on family nutritional habits. The program clearly places the onus for the formation responsible dietary and lifestyle habits on the household, indicating that the institution of family meal time at least once a day; the more judicious selection of foods such as fruits and vegetables; the establishment of portion control; the reduction of tv and computer time; and the engagement of family exercise time all can help to lengthen the lives of parents and reduce the prospects of obesity in children.

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