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Health Fest 2010 helps families get in shape

April 8, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Parents are working long hours, many have lost their health coverage and L.A. County kids are heavier than ever before. It's a challenging time for families, but we can take steps to help ourselves. We just need to know how. So health experts gathered in downtown L.A. Thursday to teach people how to get started. Self defense is great exercise, but there are other benefits. Health officials say being confident about personal safety can enhance quality of life.

"Safety is a critical issue. People aren't going to be active outside. Self defense is one way to improve people's personal feeling of safety," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Health Fest 2010 is a first for L.A. County's Department of Health.

"Most of what determines health in our population is not just health care, it is our social environment, physical environment, air quality and the food we eat," said Dr. Fielding.

"I think we have a whole generation of people who have been eating out. I am just as guilty, but we need to get back to the basics," said Donna Wolfe, L.A. County Department of Public Health.

An Antelope Valley cooking program shows kids how to get fast food out of their own fridges.

"If kids learn how to really get this done then we won't have this much obesity," said Jeremy Callenback, a 13-year-old. "Learn what to eat and when."

Children also learn how about food safety. Being careless in the kitchen isn't the only place you can get salmonella poisoning. Health officials are concerned about pets too. They say miniature turtles can be a health hazard.

"We've had a fair number of salmonella outbreaks," said Dr. Fielding.

And educating women directly is one way the county hopes to target the well being of entire families.

"I think when we approach women it is with the idea that we approach the broader community at the same time," said Jessica St. John, L.A. County Office of Women's Health.

The goal is education, prevention and protection.

Experts say one way to get your kids to exercise more is to map out walking tours of the neighborhood.

And for free heart disease risk assessments, referrals for mammograms you can call the Women's Health Hotline at (800) 793-8090.