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Adventist Health Medical Center

Adventist Health Medical Center in Hanford.

It's getting to be time for New Year resolutions, and Kings County residents might want to be serious about eating better and exercise more.

More than a third of county residents here are obese. The official rate is put at 36.6 percent of county adults are obese, according to Adventist Health Community Wellness and Diabetes Program Director Rebecca Russell.

“We have such high overweight and obesity rates,” she said.

That's higher than the nationwide figure of about 29.8 percent of adults being obese, and higher than the state figure of 24.2 percent of adults being obese.

The national and state rates are from a report that was recently released by the United Health Foundation. The report looks at multiple key health indicators state and nationwide. The analysis is based off of 34 measures of behaviors, community and environment, policies and clinical care data. 

Russell said the primary reason why people in Kings are overweight and obese is because of lifestyle choices — what they choose to eat or how active they are.

Russell added that stress management, sleep, and water intake plays a role as well, but stressed the importance of physical activity. 

She said the Central Valley’s climate can affect how active people are. 

“We live in an area where it’s too hot, so people stay inside,” she said. “What do you do inside?”

Russell said people are gaining more weight each year by eating more and burning fewer calories.

“The availability of indoor activity is critical to a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym. You can do jumping jacks when you are watching the news in the morning. You can still be physically active.”

Kings County Health Officer Milton Teske, said he sees a lot of people who are obese and have other health problems like heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Teske said he tells patients to exercise, and eat fruits and vegetables instead of sugar and fat.

“We live in a very sedentary world where we don’t exercise,” he said.

Russell, who is also the chairwoman for the Kings County Diabesity Coalition, said the coalition is planning ways to help prevent obesity and diabetes through more community outreach, education, and focusing on community gardens to encourage people to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

At Adventist Health, Russell said they educate patients about current best practices on living a healthy lifestyle, and they are creating more programs to help those who have diabetes learn how to manage their health.

Russell said she also does a lot of community outreach to churches and other organizations to educate people about diabetes and obesity. She added organizations can contact her directly for a presentation.

“I feel it’s my job to help people identify the barrier preventing people to eat [healthy],” she said.

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This reporter can be reached at or 583-2422. 

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