(KBAK/KBFX) — A study released Wednesday by the California Center for Public Health and Advocacy and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that childhood obesity rates are down in California by 1.1 percent. Unfortunately, in Kern County, the rates have grown.
The number of obese children in Kern County is almost alarming, and it seems a similar trend is forming in other Central Valley counties, such as Fresno and Tulare.
Dr. Harold Goldstein, the executive director for CCPHA said, “In Kern County, 44 percent of students are overweight. That’s an increase of 5.8 percent over that five-year period. Really, when I saw those numbers I was shocked, because I had seen the numbers statewide were going down, but (that) the numbers continued to climb in Kern County is especially troubling.”
Goldstein said he believes the childhood obesity rates in Kern County and Fresno County are so high because those counties have the highest density of unhealthy food outlets in California.
Lauren Lacher, mom to a baby girl and a 12-year old, said, “I think it has to do with a lot of the parents having to work, they have to work so much, whether it be in the fields or office jobs, they’re gone all day. Nobody’s there to watch what snacks they’re getting and people aren’t teaching their child the right snacks to get after school.”
The Kern County Department of Public Heath has acknowledged the childhood obesity problem in the area.
Dr. Claudia Jonah, the Kern County Public Health Officer, said, “We’ve done a number of things with CROP, Central California Regional Obesity Program, they did projects to deal with the whole issue of obesity and poor health.”
And they say they’re trying to do as much for the community, to keep our kids healthy.
“There’s an initiative going on in the Arvin, Lamont, Weedpatch, Greenfield area where they’re dealing with having healthier outcomes for the communities. There’s just recently the community transformation grant that was awarded to Kern County to deal with these things,” said Jonah.
The Bakersfield City School District is also aware of the obesity issue. A spokeswoman said on top of the physical education programs and healthier food options in the cafeteria, they also educate parents on how to prevent obesity.
Maryanne Godfrey-Jones owns the Bakersfield MyGym. Children can go there to stay active and socialize with other children.
“I hope that more parents become aware that there are more things to do out there, there’s many programs,” Godfrey-Jones said.