National childhood obesity rates are alarming, BUT there are some wonderful and inspirational community members out there working to reverse these trends. Soumya Karlamangla of the LA Times reports on someone who is making a big difference in a small economically depressed city outside of Long Beach, California.
A city of 14,000, Hawaiian Gardens in L.A. county boasted a 43% obesity rate amongst its kids. Alexander Khananashvili was hired to change that. By making small, but systematic changes throughout the whole city, involving TV spots, changes to the school lunch, nutritional curriculum, songs, adult-ed classes and more, Khananashvili and Hawaiian Gardens have made some real progress. From the Times:
He says he's seen improvement. Roughly 45% of 300 kindergartners in four participating elementary schools were obese or overweight before the program began, according to a report on the project written by Gomez and Khananashvili. A year later, Khananashvili says, parents who took the class saw an almost 4% reduction in their children's body mass index — a measure based on weight and height."
By taking a community-based approach and engaging most every aspect of the lives of the city’s children in health-based initiatives, Hawaiian Gardens is seeing solid incremental change. It certainly won’t be easy and it may take a while, but this is a fantastic model of working together to change the food system!
PHOTO: Courtesy Aloha Health Medical Academy
ONE MAN'S UPHILL FIGHT TO STEM CHILDHOOD OBESITY via LA Times