LOS ANGELES, Feb. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The ongoing effort to battle childhood obesity in Los Angeles County will now include a bigger focus on informing parents about healthier meal choices, smaller portions and choosing water while eating out, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) officials announced today.
With recent studies showing Americans now spend more money on eating out than on groceries, county officials today unveiled a creative advertising and outreach effort aimed both at parents as well as restaurants to secure healthier-sized portions and healthier meal offerings for children.
"As part of our ongoing efforts to battle childhood obesity in Los Angeles County, we will now have an enhanced focus on educating parents about healthier meal choices for their children," said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis. "Today, we are empowering parents with easy tips to make better choices for their kids and encouraging restaurants to provide healthier options. Healthy options should be available no matter where we eat."
"A meal away from home can be viewed as a special occasion, but it gets tricky if you are eating out three or four times a week. Studies indicate that families on average consume far more calories than they should when eating out at restaurants, and it's not just fast food but also sit-down restaurants where calories are over-consumed," said Dr. Paul Simon, MD, MPH, Director, Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The "Healthy Eating Out" campaign is part of Public Health's Choose Health LA effort and comes a few months after the county launched an outreach program to warn parents about another cause of childhood obesity – sugary drinks. The new initiative will feature a series of advertisements placed throughout the county and online with simple, important tips when eating out or at home such as choosing fruits or veggies instead of french fries, and asking for water or low-fat milk instead of soda or juice drinks. Health officials also are encouraging Los Angeles County's more than 30,000 restaurants to remove or limit fried foods and sugary drinks from children's menus, offer smaller portion options for all meals and deliver a fresher and healthier fare overall.
"Whether you are going to a sit-down restaurant or picking up food to bring home, look for smaller portion-size options and children's meals that include fruits or veggies, water or milk, and non-fried foods," Simon said. "The other key tip is to have conversations with your children before going out to eat. Set the ground rules at home that certain foods will be off-limits. This removes the temptation – and a potentially bad scene – at a restaurant."
Emphasizing smaller portions and healthier meal options is even more important in 2016 given Los Angeles residents are, on average, eating out at least four times a week and nearly one in four children and adults are obese.
"Parents are hungry for healthier meal options that are accessible, affordable and convenient," said Teresa Nuno, Chief of Programs and Planning for First 5 LA, which provided a grant to help research and fund the media campaign. "By partnering with restaurants to offer healthier options for children, along with providing tips and ideas to families on making better choices, we can help parents teach their kids healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime."
Public Health partners with restaurants to offer smaller portion sizes for meals and healthier children's menu offerings. A list of more than 700 participating restaurant locations can be found online at ChooseHealthLA.com.
"Choose Health LA Restaurant" partners displayed their modified healthy-choice menus, provided samples of their healthier children's meals, and demonstrated proper portion sizes. The new campaign was announced against the backdrop of healthy meal preparation conducted at L.A. Kitchen, a social venture training new chefs and providing healthy meals and wholesale products for senior service agencies, hospitals, schools, and retail outlets throughout Los Angeles.
The campaign is part of the Choose Health LA initiative operated by 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 March, 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 up to age 5.
The Choose Health LA Restaurants area of the website offers a list and map of participating restaurants throughout the County as well as tips for eating out healthy. You can follow the Choose Health LA program on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChooseHealthLA, on Twitter @ChooseHealthLA and on YouTube.
NOTE: Infographic and examples of media campaign available upon request.
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 Department of Public Health and the work we do, please visit PublicHealth.LACounty.gov, visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/lapublichealth, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lapublichealth, or follow us on Twitter: @LAPublicHealth.
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