San Antonio.- San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro plays RoTenGo, a form of paddle tennis, after a news briefing at Collins Garden Park where he announced a drop in the obesity rate in San Antonio between 2010 and 2012. (Photo, Natalie Bobadilla)
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro announced Wednesday that Bexar County has eclipsed the adult obesity rate of the State of Texas.
According to data presented by the Metropolitan Health District, San Antonio’s obesity rate dropped from 35.1 percent to 28.5 percent between 2010 and 2012 while the state of Texas only dropped from 31.8 percent to 29.5 percent.
“This drop means 70,000 fewer San Antonians are at risk for all of the bad things that drag on the quality of life in our city, diabetes, hypertension and stroke,” Castro said. “It also means that more and more San Antonians have an opportunity to live out their golden years.”
As part of a stimulus funding, Metro Health received a 15.6 million dollar Communities Putting Prevention to Work obesity prevention grant, the money was expended between 2010 and 2012 in partnership with city parks, libraries, public works and many others; everybody contributed in different ways, but all with the focus on reducing obesity by increasing physical activities and improving nutrition.
In order to prove the effort was effective Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a survey within the confines of Bexar County in 2010 and repeated the exact survey in 2012.
“The results were surprising and invigorating to us in public health because they exceeded our expectations for what could happen and what actually did happened,” Metro Health Director, Dr. Thomas Schlenker said.
The nonwhite population displayed the most changes, dropping its obesity rate from 40 percent to 29 percent. The study showed the greatest change in middle class Hispanics with post high school education.
“Hispanics and blacks which have been characterized as particularly at risk for being overweight and obese, there’s been a sense of fatalism about it, that well maybe that can never change, maybe they’re culturally different, genetically different, that it’s just part of the deal, but it’s not and we have just shown that,” Schlenker said.
Although most demographics progressed, the white population of San Antonio did not have any significant change over this two year period.
“Not all population groups progress at the same rate, so we have special work to do with those who are less educated and those of lower income, that’s where we need to invest the most, in going forward,”
The only population group that went the wrong direction was residents 65 and older actually showed obesity rates rising from 31.1 percent to 34.7 percent.
“That demonstrates to us that they are another group that perhaps we have not been paying enough attention to,” said Schlenker.
Castro introduced Cesar Canizalez, 17, as an example of a San Antonian who lost weight. Canizalez decided to change his diet and to get more active when he realized it was challenging for him to do his activities with the marching band his freshman year,
Canizalez, now a junior at Churchill, lost 60 lbs. over the last two years by eating more fruits and vegetables, consuming fewer sweets and running 30 minutes everyday.
“I wanted this health to be more of a lifestyle as oppose to a trend or a fad.”
Castro said he sees Canizalez as a great role model for adults and for young people in San Antonio.
“His story is just one of many stories that we hear more and more often today, of San Antonians who are taking time to walk around the track, folks who are going to the YMCA, folks who are choosing to drink water instead of soda, of young people who are actually taking us up on the salad bars at schools, all of these things add up to a healthier, happier and more fit San Antonio,” said Castro.
Although, Metro Health and Castro commend the San Antonio community for their lower obesity rates, they encourage San Antonio to stay on the right path.
“We’re going to take San Antonio from being one of the fattest cities to being one of the fittest!” said Castro.
Natalie Bobadilla is an intern at La Prensa de San Antonio. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.