Childhood Obesity: A Big Problem for Little Kids
Goran, who moderated the Nov. 8 panel discussion at First 5 LA, noted that the process of becoming sick with the effects of obesity is life-long - maybe even beginning in utero. "You don't just wake up overweight with diabetes when you're 40 or 50," Goran added.
Panelist Jan Perry, a Los Angeles City councilwoman whose district includes South Los Angeles, said she believes healthy change can come to a community by offering its children nutritious food and activity choices. "Focus everything you have on the kids and then, hopefully, they'll drag the rest of their household along," Perry said.
In South Los Angeles, which is also a First 5 LA Best Start community, Perry said residents respond positively when given opportunities to access fresh food and open spaces. To that end, policies that pave the way to healthier choices are in effect inher district, including a moratorium on free-standing fast food restaurants and a grant program for small convenience stores to buy refrigerators so they can sell fruits and vegetables.
Rosa Soto, regional director for the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, a First 5 LA grantee, also discussed the importance of grocery stores offering fresh fare, compared with fast food restaurants and their high-calorie menus. (Soto also discussed the link between soda and childhood obesity, which you can see here.)
Breastfeeding also was touted as a major preventive tool in the fight against childhood by Alexandra Sosa, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and co-chair of the Education Committee for the Breastfeeding Task Force of Greater L.A., which is also a First 5 LA grantee. The challenge, Sosa said, is reaching pregnant women and new mothers before the formula companies do, and supporting their breastfeeding efforts from the very beginning, even before mom and baby are released from the hospital.
Sosa said only three Los Angeles County hospitals (out of 57) are certified as Baby Friendly for promoting breastfeeding, but noted that eight more are being funded to achieve that status as part of a First 5 LA pilot project. "A healthy diet is the best way to prevent obesity in children and there is no healthier food than breast milk," she added, generating applause.
To see more photos from the event, click here. Watch the entire discussion below.
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