In California, the obesity epidemic continues to expand. One in every nine children, one in three teenagers, and more than half of adults are obese or overweight. To fight this epidemic, Kaiser Permanente started the HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) initiative and identified 6 HEAL Zones across Southern California. A HEAL Zone is a small community of 10,000 to 20,000 residents with high obesity rates. The HEAL Zones have parks, stores and schools that are being targeted for change so that people living in these low-income communities can more easily engage in healthy behaviors and make healthy choices. The vision of the HEAL Zones is to transform these communities so that walking and biking on safe routes, buying affordable fresh fruits and vegetables close to home, exercising in clean and safe parks, and participating in active after-school programs all become a part of a resident’s daily life.
HEAL Zones in Southern California have three specific goals:
- Decrease calorie consumption
- Increase consumption of healthy food and beverages such as fruits and vegetables and drinking water
- Increase physical activity
In the Ventura neighborhood known as The Avenue, community members took the HEAL Zone idea and ran with it.