Half of people in Nevada County are fat | SierraSun.com

Half of people in Nevada County are fat

Dave Moller
Sun News Service

NEVADA CITY — Half of Nevada County residents are overweight or obese, requiring some preventative action, according to Public Health Officer Dr. Joseph Iser.

Iser said he is targeting the excess weight of 50.2 percent of nearly 100,000 residents as a way to bring down chronic disease in the county.

“We want to focus on obesity, enhanced nutrition and the need for exercise,” Iser told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. “We are in the process of becoming a fatter, less fit nation.”

The figure comes from the California Health Interview Survey completed across the state by UCLA, according to Holly Whittaker of the county’s Public Health Department. Obese or overweight people are those who are heavier than normal height to weight ratios, Iser said.

Though alarming, the 50 percent figure in Nevada County is lower than the national and state average. More than 65 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the rate stands at 54 percent in California, the UCLA report said.

“We’re lower, but it’s still something to target,” Iser said. “Fifty percent is way too high.”

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The countywide figure was praised by Carole Carson, who held the collective weight loss program called the Nevada County Meltdown in 2004 with about 1,000 residents, and she continues to market the idea worldwide.

“It’s due to the awareness that has been created in our county,” Carson said.

To set an example for the rest of the county, Iser started a six-week walking challenge among the Health and Human Services Agency staff. He also urged residents to run, walk or bicycle more.

The doctor urged residents to decrease fat, sugar and calories in general.

The county’s physician also said when residents are eating out, they should question restaurants about the contents of their food to make sure they are not overloaded with sugars and salt.

“Prevention means we need healthy food choices,” including in the home, Iser said.

County statistics also show almost 18 percent of the children in the county’s WIC nutrition program who are 2 to 5 years old are overweight or at risk to become so, Iser said.

An unfinished report on the county’s health status also was unveiled at the meeting by Iser.

Heart disease was the leading cause of male deaths in the county in 2006 and 2007, while it was pneumonia in females. The second leading cause for both sexes was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, while the third was cancer – lung, colon and prostate for men, and breast cancer for women.

The county recorded 937 deaths during 2007, up from 852 in 2006.

It also recorded “relatively high rates” of sexually transmitted diseases last year, including 133 chlymedia cases and 16 gonorrhea infections.

The county’s physician agreed with Supervisor Sue Horne when she said the high number of cases reflected “societal acceptance of sexual activity among our youth.”

Completed portions of the health report will be discussed at a public meeting at 5 p.m. Monday at the Board of Supervisors chambers at the Rood Center, 950 Maidu Avenue in Nevada City.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.