Press Releases: Northern California
August 3, 2011
Kaiser Permanente Investment of $10 Million Will Help Seven Communities in Northern California Fight Obesity
Targeted, three-year effort will encourage people in low-income communities to eat better and move more as part of daily life
OAKLAND, Calif. — Seven Northern California communities have each received a $1 million three-year grant as part of a Kaiser Permanente investment designed to help make healthy choices more accessible to people in underserved communities.
The HEAL Zone communities of Bayview in San Francisco, Madera in the Fresno area, Modesto, the Monument Corridor in Concord, Richmond, Santa Rosa and South Sacramento were awarded grants as part of Kaiser Permanente’s new $10 million HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Zones initiative to combat obesity across Northern California. The project is supported by Kaiser Permanente through a fund established at the East Bay Community Foundation.
The vision of the HEAL Zones is that at the end of the three-year initiative communities will be measurably transformed so that opportunities for engaging in healthy behaviors — walking and biking on safe routes, buying affordable fresh fruits and vegetables close to home, exercising in parks and participating in active after-school programs — are part of daily life.
The HEAL Zones bring together a robust coalition of partners — including local public agencies, schools, community-based organizations, employers, local businesses, faith-based organizations and health care providers — committed to preventing diseases such as diabetes and hypertension that often result from obesity.
In addition to the seven HEAL Zones, Kaiser Permanente will dedicate an additional $3 million over the next three years to technical and evaluation support as well as place-based obesity prevention efforts in other Northern California communities.
Obesity is a national epidemic, and in California, the statistics are stark: Half of all California adults, one in every nine California children, and one in three teens is obese or overweight.
A person’s neighborhood greatly affects their likelihood of obesity because it determines how easy it is to buy affordable healthy food and have a safe place to be active. Low-income communities tend to have some of the highest obesity rates, which is why the HEAL Zones are focused there.
The HEAL Zones are a continuation of Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Eating Active Living Community Health Initiative, a five-year initiative started in 2006 that empowered communities to promote healthy eating and active living through policy and environmental change.
"In the first five years of the HEAL work, we saw increased physical activity, greater availability of healthy food in corner stores, improvement of our local parks and creation of safe walkways. We also learned that going forward, we could make a greater impact by concentrating our efforts in smaller, more targeted areas,” said Yvette Radford, Kaiser Permanente’s regional vice president, External and Community Affairs, Northern California. “For Kaiser Permanente, the HEAL Zones are much more than just funding. They are an extension of the work in our medical centers, and our commitment to helping create healthy individuals and healthy communities.”
Each HEAL Zone will focus on four specific goals over the next three years:
- Decrease calorie consumption, especially sugar-sweetened beverages
- Increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Increase physical activity in community settings, such as parks and safe routes for walking and biking
- Increase physical activity in institutional settings, such as schools and workplaces
“As we address obesity, especially childhood obesity, it’s imperative to make changes at the local level — where people live, work and play — to make it easier for people to eat healthily and move more as part of daily life,” said Scott Gee, MD, director of Prevention and Health Information for Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “Otherwise, we will continue to see a rise in obesity-related diseases like type 2 diabetes.”
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 and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.8 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. 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 www.kp.org/newscenter.