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Press Release

Bay Area Ready to Take Action Against Growing Obesity Epidemic, New Poll Finds

Results Support Local Efforts to Reduce Consumption of Sugary Beverages

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Contra Costa health officials are encouraged by a poll released today that shows California voters overwhelmingly agree childhood obesity is a critical health issue. The poll also shows that nearly two-thirds of the polled voters would support a special fee on sugar-sweetened beverages as one of the methods to reverse this growing epidemic.

According to a statewide Field Poll released Wednesday on behalf of The California Endowment, nearly half of all respondents said unhealthy eating habits or a lack of physical activity was the greatest health risk facing California kids—more so than illegal drug use and violence. Health officials say the results are good news for ongoing work to fight obesity and decrease consumption of sugary beverages in Contra Costa County, including pioneering efforts in the cities of San Pablo and Richmond.

Dr. Wendel Brunner, Public Health Director for Contra Costa Health Services, in a new podcast released Wednesday said the poll is a clear indication that Californians recognize childhood obesity as a major problem. "Obesity is endangering our children's health and their futures," Dr. Brunner said. "Sugar-sweetened beverages are a huge part of the problem. The average child who drinks two sugary beverages a day is consuming 150,000 empty calories a year from sweetened drinks alone." The podcast is available at

Almost three out of four respondents said the community should be involved in any effort to reduce childhood obesity. Dr. Brunner agreed, saying the environment must be changed to help support families in making healthy choices. Contra Costa Health Services late last year conducted two studies on the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages in San Pablo and Richmond. To read those reports, visit

In addition to decreasing consumption of sugary beverages, there are other interventions that can help curb the rising rates of childhood obesity in Contra Costa County. Dr. Brunner said building more parks and sidewalks, improving public safety and increasing access to healthy food options are among the successful strategies to prevent childhood obesity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that if the current trends continue as many as one out of five children today will grow up with type II diabetes.

"Companies that sell sugary beverages and other junk food jeopardize our children's health by pushing products that contain little or no nutritional value," Dr. Brunner said. "This poll shows that Californians are ready to support actions that make the healthy choice an easy choice."

To view the new Field Poll, visit (PDF).

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