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LA County to launch $2M obesity awareness campaign

October 4, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Obesity is becoming the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, even surpassing tobacco use. In Los Angeles County alone, obesity-related illness costs $6 billion a year and climbing.

Over the past 17 years, obesity in L.A. County has increased by 74 percent, according to the Health Department. Now officials are launching an awareness campaign aimed at helping people make better decisions about how much food they take in.

"So, we're trying to inform people. Our slogan is, 'Choose less, weigh less,'" said L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "If you eat less of anything, you're going to weigh less at the end of the year. Just dropping one glass of soda a day for a whole year will save you 30 pounds."

The average restaurant meal today is four times larger than it was in the 1950s. Many fast food restaurants now offer items with a 1,000 calories or more.

The $2 million campaign, which will also involve working with restaurants to offer smaller portions and dietary labeling, received mixed reaction from locals.

"I think it's a great idea. Any effort to try to make people healthier, it's hard to see anything wrong with that," said Myisa Plancq.

Others feel the campaign is unnecessary.

"It's their choice. So I don't think the government or anyone else should be putting any money in trying to tell people what to eat," said Dwight Guillory.

But in a country where nearly seven out of 10 American adults and one in three children are overweight or obese, L.A. County officials say it's time for a change.