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Press Release

National Expert to Speak on Obesity Epidemic in Contra Costa County

June 7, 2006

A national health expert will be in Contra Costa next week to share his vision about how environmental factors contribute to the obesity epidemic and what communities can do to make changes.

Dr. Richard Jackson, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Environmental Health, will speak to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on June 20 in support of a Board Order being introduced by Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier. Dr. Jackson will make a presentation titled "Urban Sprawl and Public Health: Designing, Planning and Building for Healthy Communities." He will describe his research on the relationship between a community's health and the built environment - the things in our environment that are "human" modified such as housing, industry, parks, streets, and trails.

"Contra Costa has always placed an emphasis on public health and the quality of life in our communities. Dealing with the obesity epidemic requires us to take a comprehensive look at how we are planning our communities and how we can support health life styles," says DeSaulnier.

The Board Order recommends that its Ad Hoc Committee on Smart Growth re-convene within 30 days to consider how the Departments of Community Development, Public Works and Health Services together can address the health impacts of Contra Costa's built environment.

Jackson will also be the featured speaker on Monday, June 12 from 1:30 - 3 p.m. at the Families Coalition for Activity and Nutrition (Families CAN) at 1035 Detroit Avenue in Concord.

Jackson is currently Professor of Environmental Health at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health. He is a 2005 recipient of the Presidential Distinguished Executive Award for his outstanding leadership and achievement in improving environmental public health.

He serves on the Board of Directors of the National American Institute of Architects. He also served as the State Health Officer for the California Department of Health Services.

"We are delighted that Dr. Jackson is coming to Contra Costa to talk about what it takes to deal with the obesity epidemic. Strategies like building safe bike and walking routes are ways to encourage residents to get more exercise. More physical activity for children and their parents means a decrease in obesity and other diseases like diabetes and heart disease. It makes sense for communities to make these changes in our environment to support healthy lifestyles," says Nancy Baer, who manages the county's physical activity promotion effort and is a member of Families CAN, a community-county coalition working to advocate and promote healthy lifestyle and environments.

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Press Contact
  • Nancy Baer
  • 925-313-6837
  • 510-541-3204