PASADENA, Calif., Jan 25, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Six Southern California communities have each received a $1 million grant from Kaiser Permanente Southern California to encourage people in these HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Zones, to eat better and become more physically active as part of daily life.
A HEAL Zone is a small community of 10,000 to 20,000 residents with high obesity rates. The six communities that have been awarded a total of $6 million in grants over the next three years and nine months include Anaheim in Orange County, north Long Beach in Los Angeles County, Ontario in San Bernardino County, Lemon Grove in San Diego County, West Ventura in Ventura County, and East Riverside in Riverside County.
Obesity is a national epidemic. In California, one in every nine children, one in three teenagers, and more than half of adults are obese or overweight. “We need to make changes where people live, work, and play. Otherwise, we will continue to see obesity rates rise and we’ll be treating more children and adults with chronic and debilitating diseases that often result from obesity, such as diabetes and heart disease,” said David Cuan, MD, assistant chief of pediatrics, Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center. “Healthy Eating Active Living Zones demonstrate Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to total health of the individual and the communities we serve.”
HEAL Zones in Southern California have three specific goals:
— Decrease calorie consumption
— Increase consumption of healthy food and beverages such as fruits and vegetables and drinking water
— Increase physical activity
The HEAL Zones have parks, stores, and schools that are being targeted for change so that people living in these low-income communities can more easily engage in healthy behaviors and make healthy choices. The vision of the HEAL Zones is to transform these communities so that walking and biking on safe routes, buying affordable fresh fruits and vegetables close to home, exercising in clean and safe parks, and participating in active after-school programs all become a part of a resident’s daily life.
“We are thrilled to receive this funding from Kaiser Permanente. It will allow us to build on our efforts to fight obesity in Long Beach. We look forward to the expertise and continued long-term support that our partners at Kaiser Permanente will provide to us as a part of this initiative,” said Shawna Stevens, spokesperson for the Long Beach HEAL Zone initiative.
HEAL Zones include a coalition of partners such as local public agencies, schools, community-based organizations, local businesses, faith-based organizations, and health care providers committed to fighting obesity and preventing diseases.
The six HEAL Zone grant recipients in Southern California are:
— Anaheim Family YMCA, Orange County
— City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, Los Angeles County
— City of Ontario, San Bernardino County
— Community Health Improvement Partners, San Diego County
— County of Ventura Public Health, Ventura County
— Riverside County Department of Public Health, Riverside County
In addition to the six HEAL Zones, Kaiser Permanente is also awarding $650,000 in partnership grants to Antelope Valley ($300,000), Whittier communities ($300,000) in Los Angeles County, and Kern County ($50,000) to combat obesity. Additional funding will be dedicated to technical and evaluation support over the next three years.
The HEAL Zones are a continuation of Kaiser Permanente’s HEAL program which began in 2004 to address obesity and related health conditions. Since then, Kaiser Permanente will have committed more than $21 million in HEAL efforts across Southern California.
About Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit Program
Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit program is committed to improving the health of the communities we serve and reducing health disparities through community partnerships with the safety net of community clinics, public health departments, public hospitals, and other agencies. Community Benefit also helps increase access to quality health care and coverage, regardless of income, through our charity care and charitable coverage programs; supports community groups to inspire people to make positive changes for health through our Health Eating Active Living programs and Community Health Initiatives; and shares our medical knowledge, expertise, and research to help Southern California people live healthier lives. For more info, visit Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 3.5 million members in Southern California. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: http://www.kp.org/newscenter .
SOURCE: Kaiser Permanente