Glendale News-Press: Obesity a Leading Health Issue in Glendale

Report ties community health problems to substance abuse, diet, lack of medical insurance.

By Daniel Siegal,

The biggest health issue facing the Glendale community is obesity and several conditions related to it, according to a local report released this week.

More than a third of Glendale’s residents were overweight in 2011 and 21% were found to be obese, according to the “Community Health Needs Assessment” report.

The list of top health issues also included conditions for which obesity is a risk factor, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and high cholesterol.

Also at the top of the list were mental health issues, alcohol/substance abuse and poor oral health.

The report was presented Thursday during a meeting of the Glendale Healthier Community Coalition, which is composed of Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Glendale Memorial Hospital and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, as well as nonprofits and other local groups working in areas related to public health.

According to the survey, the No. 1 factor driving unhealthy conditions is alcohol/substance abuse, followed closely by poor diet and access to healthcare.

Lack of healthcare access is a major problem locally, according to the report. It states that 31.8% of Glendale adults were uninsured in 2011, nearly three times as many as were uninsured in L.A. County.

One positive trend found in the report is a decline in the use of tobacco, although in 2011, 14% of the population smoked, which is higher than the L.A. County figure of 13.1%,

Bruce Nelson, director of community services at Glendale Adventist and co-chairman of the coalition, said the report was a crucial piece of information for the three hospitals in the area, which will soon be facing community-centric evaluations of their performances as the new federal health reform laws take effect.

“This allows us to understand more about the health of our community,” he said. “Now we have the really hard work of figuring out what to do with this data and how to address these issues.”

The report, assembled by the Center for Nonprofit Management in partnership with the three local hospitals, is issued every three years as required by a state law passed in 1994.

Sources for the data included the U.S. Census, the U.S. Department of Health and the L.A. County Department of Health, as well as a focus group conducted in February with more than 30 community representatives, including social service and health experts, local government and law enforcement officials and residents.

Source: Glendale News-Press