BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - You may have walked for cancer awareness, you may have even walked to find a cure for valley fever but now for the first time a walk is being held to bring attention to the obesity epidemic in the U.S.
23ABC News spoke to the local surgeons and a national organization that are taking a stand against the problem in hopes that people are motivated to change their lifestyle.
For people like Molly Mankoff weight loss has been a challenge for many years while living in Kern County, "I couldn't and I tried for a really long time and I needed that extra boost," Mankoff said.
Mankoff turned to Dr. Irani of the Bakersfield Surgical Associates for a change, “I've lost a hundred and four..a hundred and ten pounds," Mankoff said. “She's had bariatric surgery, she's done extremely well," Dr. Irani said.
Irani founded the bariatric weight loss surgery program that's now available at Adventist Health and Dignity Health in Bakersfield, as a way to combat the obesity rates in Kern County and to help people like Mankoff get rid of the health concerns that come with obesity. "I was pre-diabetic, I had sleep apnea, I had like a list of problems that you have when you weigh too much," Mankoff said.
However, Mankoff is not alone according to the Department of Public Health as of 2016 Kern County was the second most obese county in the state of California. 42.7% of the people were obese, 30.9% were considered overweight and the 5th, 7th and 9th graders at the time were also above the state obesity average. However, California as a whole also has one of the lowest obesity rates in the United States.
Now for the first time Irani and his team are hosting, 'The Walk From Obesity,' this Saturday October 6, at the Riverwalk Park, to bring awareness to the issue in Kern County and to encourage people to make lifestyle changes.
Adjustments that don’t require surgeries that may not come with expected results, "Some who don't change their lifestyle lose only 50% or 40% even of their weight because their doing all of the wrong things, they haven’t changed any of their lifestyle," Irani said.
This weekend's event will showcase the preventative steps you can take to live a more healthy lifestyle, "We have booths on site that are going to be checking blood pressure, we're going to do sugar checks," Irani said.
Irani said the purpose is not for a smaller pant size, but for the health issues that come with being overweight like high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, and joint problems. He hopes to highlight the need for change in the valley with this new annual tradition, "It's our first time in Bakersfield and I hope this is one of many every year," Irani said.
Irani also hopes to show people like Mankoff how to regain a healthy lifestyle, "I'm not pre-diabetic anymore, I don't have sleep apnea, I don't have any issues that I had prior," Mankoff said.
The Walk From Obesity will start at 8:30 a.m. and carry until 9:30 a.m. Saturday October 6, at the Riverwalk Park. The walk is one mile long and it is free for everyone who attends.