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So Fat It's Killing Us: Obesity in LA Co. the Elephant in the Room

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California's Department of Public Health and the California Conference of Local Health Officers released their annual report on the state of our health late this week, and it looks like "Los Angeles County residents are less likely to die of lung cancer, suicide or car crashes than residents of most other California counties - but more likely to die from heart disease and diabetes, according to the Daily News. In fact, our county "ranked 48 out of 58 in deaths from heart disease and 46 in diabetes." What's making us so unhealthy is probably a variety of factors, ranging from our stressful lives, dependency on driving, lack of exercise, lack of health insurance, poor nutrition, and poor air quality, say some experts. And while health-oriented bans against bad habits like smoking in public might make our lungs stronger, we're still picking up more STDs than folks in other counties, and we're still seeing an upward trend in heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments associated with obesity. And obesity,'s not hot. Says one medical professional: "We get focused on the sexy diseases, such as West Nile virus, or the food recalls as the big killers. But obesity is literally and figuratively the biggest gorilla out there."

How can we get back into shape as a county--especially when individual residents can't do much about long commutes to jobs they desperately need, or the stress of the economy? One expert notes that "while county officials publicly stress the importance of nutrition and exercise, it's obvious more community support is needed." But even the smallest healthy choices can help; swap a fast food burger meal for something lighter and fresher, make time to cook fresh meals at home with family and friends, and get off the couch and explore this beautiful city...because in and among the freeways and shopping malls and burger joints are some amazing places you can explore. (May we suggest King Gillette Ranch, Wildwood Canyon, Franklin Canyon, Beachwood Canyon, or Malibu...for starters). Who knows, it could save your life!