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The Santa Barbara County Health Dept. released its annual Health Status report last Friday, listing heart disease, cancer and stroke as the leading causes of death among locals.
The three leading causes of premature death — accounting for more than a quarter of all deaths — are heart disease, motorcycle accidents and accidental drug overdoses. Obesity and its related complications, including diabetes and hypertension, are the most wide-spread health issues.
According to Scott McCann, SB County Health Dept.’s director of health education, the lack of fresh and affordable food in Isla Vista increases the likelihood of obesity for students and lower-income residents.
“In Isla Vista there is no full service market,” McCann said. “There is the Co-Op, but it is really expensive and the next nearest place is Albertsons. That means you would have to walk to Albertsons to get affordable produce.”
McCann said the department is establishing obesity prevention programs to combat early childhood symptoms.
“We have several programs that address the health of pregnant mothers and also for low income mothers who recently had children whose kids may suffer too from lack of access to information or resources,” McCann said. “We know that breastfeeding is one of the best obesity preventatives and we have a program where nurses work directly with families to share nutritional information and promote physical activity.”
According to SB County Health Dept. Public Information Officer Susan Klein-Rothschild, healthier lifestyle choices will reduce potential health risks.
“Genetic factors do matter, but it has been researched and [the American Medical Association] said that 60 to 70 percent of factors related to health involve behavioral and environmental factors, and that genes play a smaller role than previously thought,” Rothschild said.
Klein-Rothschild said students should limit drug and alcohol consumption, wear proper vehicular safety devices and seek counseling if they experience chronic depression.