Monday, May 24, 2010

Orange County Grand jury urges more anti-obesity funding

Orange County should spend more money to combat childhood obesity and do a better job involving parents, says a grand jury report released Monday.

"Unless the county acts expeditiously, little or no improvement can be expected in efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic," wrote the Orange County grand jury.

The report says the Health Care Agency's effort to address childhood obesity through $6.6 million in state, federal and private grants doesn't go far enough. The report recommends that the county give funds for obesity prevention to the agency.

"By depending almost entirely on grants (which are not guaranteed), Orange County in effect gives low priority to reducing childhood obesity," the report says.

Deanne Thompson, spokeswoman for the Health Care Agency, said officials are reviewing the report and will respond to the findings.

"The Health Care Agency is committed to reducing the incidence of childhood obesity in Orange County, and to that end we partner with the community to offer a variety of nutrition and education programs that aim to promote fruit and vegetable consumption as well as physical activity," Thompson wrote in an e-mail.

Grand jurors praised a parent workshop on nutrition and physical activity that was organized by the agency's family health division, but said more needs to be done to educate parents.

The report also says the county should do a better job coordinating efforts with schools, hospitals and other groups addressing childhood obesity. It recommends that the county develop a comprehensive plan for tackling the problem.

The report points out that obesity harms the region's economy. A 2009 study found Orange County ranked second in the state to Los Angeles in the economic costs of obesity, which amount to $3.3 billion a year in Orange County.

To read the report, visit

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