Obesity is one of the most detrimental chronic health conditions. It is common in youngsters, children, and seniors alike. More than 70 million adults are obese in the USA, that’s 21% of the population. In children, the obesity rate currently stands at 18.5%, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, the way Beach Cities Health District has tackled this problem is a precedent for the whole nation to follow.
EXCEPTIONALLY HIGH RATES OF OBESITY
A survey in 2007 found out that 1 out of every 5 students in Redondo Beach elementary school was obese. This percentage was higher than the average obese children in the USA as well as in Los Angeles County. Redondo Beach Unified School District was concerned about the grim state of affairs and started looking into ways to control the situation from escalating any further.
A STEP TOWARDS BETTER HEALTH
Finally, in 2010, the Beach Cities Health District collaborated with Blue Zones to launch a project to help alleviate the situation. The project spanned over community-wide efforts to make it easy for the children to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The aim was to bring semi-permanent and permanent changes in the environment to help fight obesity.
SIGNS OF IMPROVEMENT
For more than a decade, the efforts of BCHD, LIVEWELL Kids, Blue Zones Project, local organizations, and community participation showed a positive change in the state of affairs. The obesity rate in children kept decreasing. In the 12 years, from 2007 to 2019, the obesity rate in Redondo Beach elementary schools has dropped to a mere 6.4%. That’s a 68% decrease in the obesity rate. It must also be noted that the obesity rate in children aged 2-19 has increased from 16% to 18.5% over the same period of time.
HOW DID THEY DO IT?
The school district, with the help of related health care associations, made some changes. Parents, faculty, staff, and children worked on an agenda to defeat obesity. The changes included:
• Mandatory fruits and vegetables at lunch.
• Establishment of gardens and playgrounds in every school.
• Trained parent volunteers delivered lectures on nutrition.
• Exercise was made mandatory before every class in the morning.
• Walking School buses were introduced to keep students physically active.
The real impressive thing about this improvement was not the dramatic decrease in obesity rates. The real thing about this improvement is that it sustained. The improvement was seen not only in children but also in other demographic groups. The great achievement was not only noticed by local media outlets but also got nation-wide fame. Some of the top health professionals appreciated the great thing accomplished by this community.
APPRECIATION BY SURGEON GENERAL
The unusual achievement of the school district and the health district got the notice of the ex-Surgeon General of the USA, Vivek Murthy. The doctor said that there’s a perception that America’s health problems are too big to tackle but if the communities take matters in their hands, they can solve the problems effectively and permanently.
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