Los Angeles County, California — Obesity


[music playing] [Dr. Jonathan Fielding]
If you look at the biggest problems we
have in Los Angeles County and in communities all
around the country, it’s chronic disease. With obesity, it is
our biggest epidemic. It threatens to have our
children live shorter lives than we do for the first
time in many generations. [Gwendolyn Flynn] We’ve
got a problem here. There are folks who are dying
unnecessarily of these food-related diseases;
diabetes and heart disease, including strokes and
high blood pressure. [Dennis Barrett] Los Angeles
County Health Department have been doing an eight-year study
on obesity in LA County. Obesity had been on the
rise just like this. [Dr. Paul Simon] If
you look at the rate of childhood obesity in Bell
Gardens, for example, there, 35 percent of
children are obese. In other words,
more than one in three. [Bill Roschen] Los Angeles
is a city of cars. We’re a city that, in a way,
has never really embraced the idea of bicycles
and walking. [Gwendolyn Flynn] Neighborhoods
like South Los Angeles where we do a lot of our work have been
considered food deserts. The fast food restaurants
have become a substitute for supermarkets in
some neighborhoods, and there are no other
alternative food sources here. [Dr. Paul Simon] Ultimately,
we’re trying to change environments, to create
environments where people have easy access to healthy
lifestyle choices. [Dr. Jonathan Fielding] Well,
their new program seeks to improve nutrition for
everybody but particularly concerned about
disadvantaged communities, and also to increase
physical activity. [Gwendolyn Flynn] An
environment in which a person lives and works and plays
makes all the difference in the decisions that
they make in their lives and their health outcomes. [Dr. Jonathan Fielding] It’s
absolutely critical that we focus on kids. [Dennis Barrett] We wanted to
do more for our kids and go above and beyond
the requirements of the federal government. Whatever is even sold at school
stores must meet the school board’s nutritional
requirements. They banned soda pop. We banned candy bars. We have become known
as the district that is anti-junk food. [Dr. Jonathan Fielding] We’re
working in food deserts to try and help neighborhood
stores increase their sale of fruits and vegetables. We’re working hard to increase
the places where everybody can recreate in communities
where there’s not a lot of park space. [Bill Roschen] But the
parks have many ambitions, but the healthy lifestyles are
the number one ambition. You know, a big part of the
parks is to say that this is. a safe place to do bicycling,
and it’s healthy, a way for children to get
outside on a regular basis, to have exercises. [Dr. Jonathan Fielding] It’s
people in every community working with schools,
community organizations, the private sector. You can make a huge difference. [Bill Roschen] This is a chance
to really allow families to participate
differently in their environments or neighborhoods. [Gwendolyn Flynn]
It’s not easy. No one can do this
by themselves. [Dr. Paul Simon] Community
is incredibly important for moving the
needle on creating healthier environments. [Bill Roschen] This
is an opportunity to really think our cities
through again, to rethink Los Angeles as a car-focused
city into a city that emblematically,
these parks start to say, “We really are
about the people “in the neighborhoods, not so
much about the streets and the automobiles.” [Dr. Jonathan Fielding] They
are very strong coalitions in a number of our communities
that have really made substantial progress, and
the changes don’t even have to be radical changes. They can be very small changes. But, if everybody in a
community makes them it’s just shocking how you
can change health in a relatively short
period of time.