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Courtenay Edelhart covers health care for The Californian. Reach her at cedelhart@bakersfield.com, at Facebook.com/TBCHealth or on Twitter@TBCHealth.

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Kern Medical Center partnered with the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Bakersfield program to create a new waiting room for orthopedic patients and their families. Photo courtesy of Kern Medical Center.

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Kern Medical Center partnered with the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Bakersfield program to create a new waiting room for orthopedic patients and their families. Photo courtesy of Kern Medical Center.

Shocking news: Americans are fat. The United States had 13 percent of the global population of overweight and obese people last year despite accounting for just 5 percent of the world's population, according to a new analysis of trend data from 188 countries.

An estimated 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight, according to a study published May 29 in The Lancet.

The U.S.'s 78 million obese adults outnumbered obese adults in any other country in the world.

China came in a distant second with 46 million obese adults, followed by India, with 30 million.

About a third of American men (32 percent) and women (34 percent) were obese in 2013 compared with about 4 percent of Chinese and Indian adults.

Nearly 30 percent of Americans under age 20 were either obese or overweight, up from 19 percent in 1980.

The study was called "Global, regional and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980--2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013."

The research was part of an international consortium led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

View data from the report online at http://vizhub.healthdata.org/obesity.


Kern Medical Center and the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Bakersfield program Friday held a ribbon-cutting for a new waiting room at KMC for orthopedic patients and their families (pictured above).

The improved waiting room has new paint and murals, new flooring, comfortable seating and children's games.

The renovation should have cost about $2,280, but much of the labor and materials was donated.


Kern County's whooping cough rate is lower than the state overall, ranking No. 20 of 58 California counties, according to new data from the California Department of Public Health.

The state received reports of 2,649 cases of whooping cough statewide from January through May 27, more than the number of cases reported in all of 2013.

Forty-seven of the cases reported through May were in Kern County, up from 33 cases through April.

That translates to an incidence rate of 5.42 per 100,000 residents. The state's rate was 6.93.

Sonoma County had California's worst rate of infection at 83.28, followed by Napa (42.42) and Marin (38.3) counties.

Fourteen counties reported no cases of whooping cough, down from 17 counties that were free of the disease through April.

Also known by the clinical name pertussis, whooping cough is a contagious bacterial disease primarily spread by coughing that peaks every three to five years.

The last peak was in 2010.

Youngsters are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Whooping cough symptoms include runny nose, fever, and in infants persistent coughing often punctuated by loud gasps.

Vaccinations are the best protection from the disease. DTaP is a combination vaccine that protects against whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus.

A series of four shots is recommended between ages 2 months and 18 months, and once more between ages 4 and 6.


Children need not go hungry this summer. Community Action Partnership of Kern is again offering its annual Summer Food Service Program for youngsters.

The nonprofit social service agency will provide free breakfast and lunch to children age 18 and younger.

Breakfast will be served from 8:30 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekdays through July 25 at Friendship House Community Center, 2424 Cottonwood Road in Bakersfield; and Shafter Youth Center, 455 E. Euclid Ave. in Shafter.

Also, Kern County Superintendent of Schools is operating five Summer Seamless meal programs to youth ages 2 to 18.

* 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekdays through July 31 at Beale Memorial Library, 701 Truxtun Ave.

* 8:45 to 9:15 a.m. and noon to 12:30 p.m. weekdays through July 17; and 1 to 2 p.m. weekdays July 21-Aug. 15, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 1001 S. Owens Blvd.

* 8:30 to 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to noon weekdays through Aug. 15, Boys & Girls Club, 801 Niles St.

* 10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Monday through Thursday through Aug. 8 at Bakersfield Police Activities League, 301 E. Fourth St.

* Noon to 12:20 p.m. weekdays through June 27 at Buttonwillow Elementary School, 42600 Highway 58.

All sites are closed on July 4.


SB 1000, the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Safety Warning Act, passed the California state Senate May 29 on a 21 to 13 vote, moving it forward to the State Assembly.

The first bill of its kind in the nation, the proposed law is designed to help curb skyrocketing diabetes rates by placing a small warning label on the front of all bottles and cans of sugary drinks sold in California.

The label would read, "STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay."

If the governor signs the bill into law, the label would appear on sugary drink labels beginning July 1, 2015.


Once strongly aligned with the GOP, American physicians are leaning more left, an analysis of campaign contributions over two decades shows.

The first rigorous look at donor doctors also finds they've become increasingly generous, with political contributions surging to almost $200 million in recent years.

An increase in female doctors -- who more often than men donated to Democrats -- and a decline in physicians working on their own or in small practices occurred during study years. Those changes likely contributed but reasons for the political shift are unclear, said study co-author David Rothman, a social medicine professor at Columbia University's medical school.

The study focused on donations of $200 or more to presidential and congressional candidates or political organizations from 1991 through 2012. At the beginning, almost 3 percent of U.S. doctors made contributions, rising to almost 10 percent by the end of the study.

Doctor donations to Republican candidates peaked in the mid-1990s, when almost 75 percent of all MD contributions went to the GOP. Those donations mostly declined after that, to about 50 percent in 2011-12. The exception was in 2009-10 during emergence of the Affordable Care Act, when Republican donations briefly increased.

By the end of the study, 24 percent of women who donated gave to GOP candidates versus 52 percent of the men.

Women comprise almost one-third of the nation's 1 million physicians and almost half of medical school graduates, according to 2012-13 data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

-- The Associated Press