County Focusing on Obesity

Obesity prevention, especially among teens, is a top priority in Santa Barbara County, according to Susan Horne, health educator for the Santa Barbara Public Health Department. Among current programs dealing with the problem are:

  • School Nutrition Advisory Council was formed at Santa Barbara High School in November, 2002 to promote healthy foods and beverages on campuses. Since its inception, SNAC has been collaborating with SBHS parents, teachers, administrators, students, public health nurses,
    nutritionists, local business owners, community coalitions, physicians and other health professionals.Among the changes were the addition of bottled waters and 100 percent fruit juices to each vending machine on campus, promotion of healthy snack food and beverage alternatives and student taste tests, a wider variety of healthy foods and beverages at the PTSA-run student store, and student advocates who shared their ideas and concerns with the Santa Barbara School District board of education.

    In July, SNAC presented research data, local findings and nutrition policy recommendations to board members. Their primary recommendation was to form a Nutrition Policy Task Force by October, 2003 that would address school nutrition and policy on a district-wide level.

    For more information, contact Becky Rheim, health educator, 805.682.6382.

  • Partners for Fit Youth is a community coalition to address childhood obesity. It was formed in the summer of 2001 in response to a growing concern about the epidemic of childhood obesity throughout Santa Barbara County. Spearheaded by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and in collaboration with the University of California Cooperative Extension Program, PFY members represent a wide spectrum of organizations and professionals with the common goal of reducing overweight and obesity and improving youth fitness.This year, PFY’s focus is on improving food choices in school snack bars and vending machines and increased physical activity among K-12 students. For more information, contact Corina Easley, 805.346.8399.
  • Gold Coast Collaborative is a group of more than 12 organizations in the counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura whose goal is to reverse the disturbing trends of increasing overweight and decreasing fitness in children and youth. A policy brief titled “A Health Crisis in Paradise” will be released during the week of Sept 21, 2003. The brief reveals regional and local statistics on fitness and overweight, the risks, costs and causes. The major thrust of the brief is policy recommendations that aim to reverse the trends toward chronic diseases and overwhelming personal, medical and social costs. For more information, contact Susan Horne, 805.681.4757.
  • Linking Education to Activity and Food is a pilot program at Carpinteria Middle School to improve school meals, choices and atmosphere, vending machine choices, links to local farmers and nutrition education. For more information, contact Bonnie Jenuine: 805.684.4544
  • LEAF: Orcutt Union School District. For more information, contact Janette Wesch: 805.938.8925.
  • SNAC: Santa Maria Joint Union School District. For more information, contact Kathy Bertelsen: 805.937.2051, ext 2240.

© September 2 , 2003
Santa Barbara News-Press
written by Marilyn McMahon