Health Initiative to Target Early Childhood Obesity Unveiled in LA County

"Choose Water" Media Campaign Provides Clear Warnings for Parents about Sugary Drinks

Oct 07, 2015, 13:00 ET from Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- With California leading the country in childhood obesity, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) announced today a campaign and outreach program warning parents about a leading cause of weight-related health risks – sugary drinks.

"Water: The Healthiest Choice," is a campaign aimed at parents and focuses on providing simple, straightforward information about soda, sports and juice drinks and their link to childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. The program kicked off a news event where LA County health officials surrounded by dozens of children holding "Choose Water" reusable bottles unveiled the multilingual media campaign encouraging parents to give their children water and remove sugary drinks from their diet. Creative campaign messages will appear on billboards, in bus shelters, on the Internet, on the radio, and other outlets for the next several weeks.

"The evidence is clear: Preventing obesity in children begins with promoting healthy nutrition and physical activity at the earliest stages of their lives," said Dr. Paul Simon, MD, MPH, Director, Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. "The choice is simple: Put down the sugary drinks and choose water instead. It's time to get into the habit of drinking more water."

The campaign arrives just days after a national study found that while California's obesity rate among adults is the fifth lowest in the country and has an overall decline in childhood obesity rates, the Golden State still has the highest obesity rate among children between the ages of 2 and 4. Sugary drinks, which can represent up to 40% of a child's total caloric intake, are a leading cause of obesity among children.

"We want to encourage parents to choose the sugar free, calorie free, and obesity free drink for their children – water," said Dr. Simon. "There are easy, simple ways to make water more appealing to kids. Parents can go to for tips and easy recipes."

Dr. Simon also recommends parents give their children whole fruit.

"Juice drinks are not a substitute for whole fruit because these drinks often have added sugar. With whole fruits, you are giving children the fiber they need in their diet that you can't get through juice," Simon said, adding that parents can create their own juice drink by adding cut fruit to a glass of water.

The campaign is part of Choose Health LA, an Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Initiative of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to prevent and control chronic disease in Los Angeles County. The current media campaign, which runs through December, was funded through a grant from First 5 LA. Under this initiative, Choose Health LA Kids is a community-based program partnering with county departments and public agencies, community and faith-based organizations, and health care providers to provide skills-building opportunities and give nutrition and physical activity resources to families with children ages 0-5.

The "Healthy Kids" ( area of the website offers a wealth of other information for parents. You can follow the Choose Health LA program on Facebook at, on Twitter @ChooseHealthLA and on YouTube.

The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $900 million. To learn more about the LA County Department of Public Health and the work they do, visit, and follow Public Health on social media at,, and

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health works to protect health, prevent disease, and promote health and well-being.


SOURCE Los Angeles County Department of Public Health