Posted on 11 February 2016 by La Habra Journal
By Ashley Pellegrini
La Habra Journal
Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control. There are many factors that play into obesity such as poor nutrition and lack of exercise, just to name a few. Many cities in and around the Orange County area have decided to take action and do something about the growing problem of obesity in America. As of January 2014, the city of La Habra was named one of the most “Fit” cities in Orange County through its “Move More Eat Healthy Initiative.” The initiative was first created to increase awareness to the growing problem of obesity and to take action through better meal choices and exercise in schools as well as local businesses. Vice Chairman Rebecca French of the La Habra Collaborative, and a team of individuals, who believe in healthy lifestyles for La Habra residents, promoted the idea of a “Move More Eat Healthy Initiative ”. French, and members of the Collaborative worked hard to educate the city, school district and entire community on the importance of eating healthy and having a more active lifestyle. The idea was met with much support and the city worked to meet the specific HEAL Cities criteria for an Active City like building and improving areas for increased opportunity for physical activity. Another area is that the city and chamber worked to foster healthy environments for employees. Further they worked to create greater access to healthy food choices by residents. According to The Healthy Eating Active City Campaign, “ The purpose of the campaign is to provide training and technical assistance to city officials adopt policies that improve their communities’ physical activity and retail food environments.” See FIT Page 4 (From Page 1) HEAL is a partnership of The League of California Cities and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. They have established three specific designations for cities that include: eager, active, and fit. In order to be considered an Eager City, a city has to want to join the campaign to bring focus to a resolution in order for their city to improve. An Active City has adopted and already implemented at least two of the policies in each of the criteria listed above. A Fit City, adopts and implements one policy in each area. Currently, there are 18 active HEAL cities in the Orange County area. La Habra is one of only three Fit Cities, which include: San Clemente, and Santa Ana. Each city must submit their own policies for a healthy city, along with a resolution as to how they are going to implement these changes throughout their city. For La Habra, this included collaboration by the city and the school district. The creation of bicycle-friendly paths, emphasis on walking or biking to school, providing healthier lunch alternatives, developing hydration stations and fit kid centers are some examples of the developments created as part of the MMEH campaign. The city has also included these elements within its General Plan 2035. Like most initiatives or changes, results are not always immediate and take time. However, the idea has taken off with positive feedback and the outlook on the future of the program seems bright. French believes there are three things that will continue to encourage change.
“Support, desire and interest in identifying there is a problem and then taking the initiative to make it better,” she stated. “Over the course of the next five years, through the strategic plan that was set in place, the numbers drop in obesity.”