Making Madera residents healthier

MADERA, Calif.

These kids are having fun while working up a sweat, but officials say too many Madera families are not getting the exercise or healthy food they need.

Maryann Seay said, "I think that poverty has a lot to do with it, and access to fruits and vegetables, access to quality programs."

According to the latest California Health Interview Survey, about 34 percent of adults in Madera County are considered obese, compared to 22 percent statewide. And nearly 18 percent of children in the county are overweight, compared to 11 percent statewide.

That's why Kaiser Permanente announced Wednesday it's investing one million dollars over the next three years to help improve the health of Madera families.

The money will be used in part to give kids access to programs that help keep them active. It will also go toward eliminating sugary drinks and foods from schools -- and making fresh fruits and vegetables available at neighborhood stores.

"It sounds good to me," said Dora Jasso. "That's something I think we need."

Dora Jasso keeps her five kids busy with soccer and boxing. But says she can use all the help she can get.

"Oh, it's really difficult, especially with kids now-a-days, all they want to do is eat junk food," said Dora Jasso. "So it's kind of hard to keep them healthy, so I think this program is actually going to help a lot of kids."

Organizers of the new health initiative are still deciding exactly how to implement these changes. But one of their first goals is to develop a city-wide healthy vending machine policy.

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