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6:23 AM Mon, Nov. 19th

Community stakeholders plan to reduce obesity in Kingman by 3 percent

This is Part 4 of a five-part series assessing health care needs and goals in Mohave County.

KINGMAN – Besides mental health and substance abuse, the third health priority for Kingman is obesity.

According to the Community Health Assessment, the adult obesity rate in Mohave County is 34 percent, which is worse than peer counties. This number is the percentage of adults who report having a body mass indicator above 30. The median adult obesity rate for the entire U.S. is 30.4 percent.

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Everything affects a community’s health. It isn’t just the doctors or hospitals, the health food stores or gyms. Where we live, work, play, pray and learn determines our health and well-being.

Mental health is the number one health priority

Not all illnesses are visible. Some are hidden deep inside our minds and can only be diagnosed by those specialized professionals.

Substance abuse among top three health challenges

According to data gathered by the Community Health Assessment, Mohave County ranks worse than peer counties for most kinds of substance abuse.

Compared to the state of Arizona, Mohave County’s rate of overweight children, especially among low-income families, is worse than the state’s percentage of 12.7. In Mohave County, the percentage of overweight children aged 2 to 5 is 13.7 percent. Children over 2-years-old who are overweight have a higher risk of obesity in adulthood as well as increased risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and glucose intolerance.

The Community Health Improvement Plan lists obesity as its third priority based on these numbers. Other factors the CHIP takes into consideration is the higher rate of coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer related to obesity.

“The view throughout the community is that diabetes is an inevitability, that ‘I’m going to get it no matter what,’” said one key informant in the CHA.

The CHA also found that Mohave County has a higher percentage of adults and children who are “food insecure” than other U.S. counties, as well as a higher percentage of individuals who are low-income with limited access to healthy food.

The CHIP hopes its strategies will address the root causes of obesity and reduce the rate of adult obesity by 3 percent by 2020.

The first strategy is to implement a nutrition education campaign by assessing knowledge, attitude and beliefs in the community regarding obesity and nutrition. From there, it takes identifying target populations who could benefit from the education campaign, and develop a program that fits each target group.

The second strategy is increasing the participation in free and low-cost physical activities in Kingman, since 27.3 percent of adults report no leisure-time physical activity. This would require working with Parks and Recreation to promote parks, trails and pools as well as assessing and mapping any free activities already in place in the Kingman region.

The final strategy to accomplish the 2020 goal is to enhance access to places for walking and biking. Working with the City to identify areas to increase walkability, as well as changing current areas so they can be accessed by older adults would be a must. Those who are part of the CHIP committee would have to develop an outreach campaign that shares these improvements and opportunities to all ages and skill levels.

Obesity is a problem that faces most of the United States, and Kingman is no different. Increasing education to reduce unhealthy behaviors is the first step moving forward.