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Healthy Eating Active Living Community Health Initiative

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Healthy Eating, Active Living Community Health Initiative (HEAL) is a project of the Community Activity and Nutrition Coalition of Sonoma County (CAN-C) that is funded by Kaiser Permanente Northern California Region. The goal of HEAL is to create a sphere of influence, a "HEAL Zone," in Kawana Springs and Roseland neighborhoods that makes it easier for community members to eat healthier foods and be more physical activity throughout life, from infancy through adulthood, in order to prevent diseases such as diabetes and hypertension that often result from obesity.

The HEAL Zones are a continuation a five-year initiative started in 2006 that empowered communities to promote healthy eating and active living through sustainable policy, systems, and environmental change across schools, worksites, healthcare facilities, and neighborhoods. In south Santa Rosa, these changes included adding salad bars to seven schools and improving school lunches in three school districts, offering breastfeeding and healthier living counseling and classes to patients at community clinics, empowering residents to create healthy changes in their communities through leadership development, and launching the Healthy Food Outlet Project.

HEAL Reports and Outcomes


During the past 20 years, the rates of overweight and obesity have risen significantly in the Unites States, resulting in about 112,000 deaths annually associated with obesity (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). In California, over half of all adults, one in every nine children, and one in three teens is overweight or obese (California Center for Public Health Advocacy; The Economic Costs of Overweight, Obesity, and physical Inactivity Among California Adults-2006; July 2009). The highest rates of overweight and obesity, however, occur among groups with the highest poverty rates. In Sonoma County, over two-thirds (70%) of low-income (<100 FPL) adults ages 18 and older reported being overweight or obese compared to 59% of non-low-income adults (>300 FPL) (California Health Interview Survey, UCLA, 2009). Additionally, more than one in three low income children (ages 2-11) and almost half of all low-income teens (ages 12-19) is overweight or obese (Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System Data, Center for Disease Control, 2007-2009).

According to a 2007 behavioral survey, 65% of the population in south Santa Rosa is overweight or obese (Community Health Behavior Surveys, HEAL Initiative-RAND Sector Reports). Among children, only 30% of 2-10 year olds are getting the recommended amount of physical activity per week and 57% of 12-19 year olds are overweight or obese (Southwest Santa Rosa Clinic Data, 2008. Redwood Coalition of Health Centers Pediatric Nutrition Project, 2008).

For the first time in recent history, the life expectancy of children today will be less than that of their parents, largely due to health risks associated with overweight and obesity. Obesity is a major risk factor for many diseases and health conditions including hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, sleep disorders, depression and other mental health problems, some cancers, and premature death. Root causes of the obesity epidemic include increased access to low-cost high calorie foods, as well as environmental surroundings that contribute to physical inactivity and poor diet. Change at multiple levels, including individual behavior, public policy and the physical and social environments, along with access to appropriate medical care, will be needed to reverse this epidemic.

HEAL Zone Overview (2010-2013)

The vision of the HEAL Zones is that at the end of this three-year initiative, the Kawana Springs and Roseland neighborhoods will be measurably transformed so that opportunities for engaging in healthy behaviors - walking and biking on safe routes, buying affordable fresh fruits and vegetables close to home, exercising in parks and participating in active after-school programs - are part of daily life.

The South Santa Rosa HEAL Zones will focus on four specific goals over the next three years:

  • Decrease calorie consumption, especially sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Increase physical activity in community settings, such as parks and safe routes for walking and biking
  • Increase physical activity in institutional settings, such as schools and workplaces

The project will continue to focus on sustainable environmental, system and policy changes that help to reduce racial and ethnic disparities associated with poor nutrition and inactivity. Additionally, community members will continue to drive changes in their own physical and social environments and/or advocate for policies that promote healthy eating and active living . These goals will be accomplished through the implementation of the following Community Action Plan, created by residents and representatives from schools, worksites, and healthcare serving south Santa Rosa.

Project Resources

HEAL Zone Press Releases

South Santa Rosa Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Resource Guide

The South Santa Rosa Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Resource Guide was designed to provide residents of south Santa Rosa with information on physical activity, healthy food options, nutrition education, cooking classes and food assistance available in the community.

Fitness Fun Guides

The Fitness Fun Guides, developed by the Sonoma County Community Activity and Nutrition Coalition, provide information on the many ways families can participate in physical activity. Each guide is available in both English and Spanish, and downloadable in pdf format for printing.

Physical Activity Guides: Fitness Fun for Families

Related Links

Our Community Programs
Information about Kaiser Permanente's community programs, including Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL).
Source: Kaiser Permanente.

Fruits and Veggies Matter
Tips, serving sizes, and serving suggestions to help people eat more fruits and vegetables. Includes an interactive tool to help individuals determine how many fruits and vegetables they should consume daily.
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overweight and Obesity
Information on obesity and overweight in the United States. Included are trends, contributing factors, consequences, and recommendations for the prevention of adult and childhood overweight and obesity.
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Healthy Living
Provides links to a variety of health topics, including healthy eating and physical activity and exercise.
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Food and Nutrition Information Center
Contains over 1,600 links to current and reliable nutrition information and links to several USDA sites, including the WIC Works Resource System.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Cancer Prevention and Nutrition
Provides information on Network for Healthy California programs, and links to many other nutrition, exercise and chronic disease prevention sites and resources. Assists local public entities to enhance their nutrition education programs and promotion of physical activity through an ongoing Local Incentive Award (LIA) program, which supports nutrition education/physical activity promotion that targets Food Stamp-eligible and similar low-income consumers.
Source: California Department of Public Health.

Champions for Change
Contains tips and resources to help people eat more fruits and vegetables, be more active, and speak up for healthy changes. Resources and information in English and Spanish.
Source: California Department of Public Health.

Champions for Change: Network for a Healthy California - Northcoast Region
Goals of the network are to increase daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, increase daily physical activity, decrease food insecurity, and decrease chronic disease. The Northcoast region consists of six counties (Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma).
Source: California Department of Public Health.

KidsHealth Nutrition and Fitness Center
Provides suggestions for ways to keep kids healthy. Includes recipes, nutrition, and fitness information, as well as general health links. It also has fitness suggestions for specific age groups. Most articles are also available in Spanish.
Source: The Nemours Foundation.

USDA Recipefinder
Searchable database for healthy and economic recipes. Can search for recipes based on ingredients, cost, type of dish, and preparation required.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fruit, Vegetable, and Physical Activity Online Guide: Toolbox for Community Educators
The Toolbox Kit and this companion website were created so that community educators can easily teach low-income adults about eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and enjoying physical activity every day.
Source: California Department of Public Health.

Meal Planning Made Simple
Provides healthy recipe ideas, advice on healthy menu planning for your family, and articles about nutrition and physical activity. Resources available in English and Spanish.
Source: Dairy Council of California.

Healthy Students Initiative
Project developed by Health Action to implement solutions to address childhood obesity in Sonoma County school communities. The website provides resources to help schools provide an environment that encourages healthy eating and physical activity among students.
Source: Sonoma Health Action.


Anthony Taylor
HEAL Zone Coordinator
(707) 565-6624

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