LOS ANGELES - More than 100 community leaders and key stakeholders attended the first ever countywide physical activity summit today. "Get Active, Get Healthy LA!," held at the University of Southern California Davidson Conference Center, brought together businesses, community- based organizations, churches, schools and other agencies to explore opportunities to increase physical activity in Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles County Departments of Public Health and Parks and Recreation, and the Los Angeles Collaborative for Healthy Active Children led the summit.
"Physical activity contributes to health at every stage of life, from the pre-school period to the elder years. It both reduces the risk of many chronic diseases and improves quality of life for everyone," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer for Los Angeles County.
"Lack of adequate physical activity is a serious risk factor for obesity, which continues to be one of the most significant public health threats facing our county. This summit is an excellent opportunity to leverage resources and encourage partnerships among multiple organizations throughout the county," said Dr. Fielding. "These partnerships will broaden community interventions and policy changes to help make physical activity an easier choice for all residents of LA County."
According to the 2007 Los Angeles County Health Survey, 22.9% of children in 5th, 7th, and 9th grades are obese and 68.1% of adults are overweight or obese. The survey also found that 36.2% of adults were minimally active or inactive, and that 15.2% of children aged 6-17 were inactive, meaning half of the county's nearly 10 million residents are not reaching the recommended amounts of physical activity each week.
"Increasing physical activity levels is one of the most promising strategies available for reducing the toll of obesity and chronic diseases related to obesity, and for improving overall health," said Dr. Fielding.
Stakeholders who participated in the summit were encouraged to adopt and implement evidence-based strategies for increasing physical activity, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Institute of Medicine. Recommended strategies include promoting physical education and activity in schools, increasing access to locations that facilitate physical activity such as parks, providing physical activity education outside of schools, and motivating and providing support to individuals through community-wide campaigns.
"Parks and Recreation professionals are in a unique position to partner with other county leaders to marshal our resources and make a proactive difference in the way people live their lives and how they participate in physical activity," said Russ Guiney, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. "We are proud to be one of the collaborators of the "Get Healthy, Get Active LA!" initiative, and encourage our colleagues in the Parks and Recreation industry throughout LA County to get involved."
"Partnerships are crucial to the success of LA Collaborative member programs, which struggle to meet their goals with limited resources," said Lauren Neel, Coordinator for the Los Angeles Collaborative for Healthy, Active Children. "Being a part of the "Get Healthy, Get Active LA!" initiative will enable our members to form new partnerships and adopt strategies that will increase the reach of their programs and improve physical activity promotion, especially for low-income children and their families."
The next phase of the initiative will re-convene stakeholders in June to exchange best practices and resources for more effective physical activity promotion and integration opportunities, identify challenges and address barriers, and explore strategies for integrating nutrition education into physical activities.
For more information on the "Get Healthy, Get Active LA!" initiative, visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/nut/Network/GAGHLA/GAGHLA1. htm.
The "Get Active, Get Healthy LA!" Summit was sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross, LA 84 Foundation, and the Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District. Summit participants included directors from various Parks and Recreation facilities, the Aerobic Fitness Association of America, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, American College of Sports Medicine Southwest Chapter, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Club of Burbank, California State PTA, California State University Northridge, LA County Bicycle Coalition, Phidippides Encino, Playworks, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Southern California Tennis Association, The Los Angeles Sparks, Sports Club L.A., Umbral Yoga, World Fit for Kids, and Yoga Works.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, please visit http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov, visit our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/lapublichealth, or follow us on Twitter: @LAPublicHealth.