SOURCE: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health RENEW LA County Initiative
BELL GARDENS, CA--(Marketwire - Jul 26, 2011) - The healthy choice is now an easier choice for residents of Bell Gardens after city officials passed a healthy vending policy last night for city-owned youth recreation centers and parks. The vending policy will eliminate youth access to regular and diet sodas and other sugar-loaded drinks, including sports drinks and energy drinks. The new food standards will match the requirements of the Montebello Unified School District's policy, which will reduce the allowable calories, fat and salt in products available for purchase.
In a move that demonstrates the city's commitment to fighting the obesity crisis on the front lines, the policy will help to reach parents and their families where they live, work, learn and play. The five City Council members voted unanimously in favor of this new policy.
"The city of Bell Gardens wants to be a model for children and families who use our facilities," said Mayor Jennifer Rodriquez. "Sugar-sweetened beverages and high calorie, fat-laden snacks are hindering our efforts to reduce childhood obesity in our city."
The economic costs associated with being overweight or obese and lack of physical activity cost Los Angeles County nearly $12 billion in health care and lost productivity in 2006, and these costs are not declining. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's RENEW LA County initiative is working with cities like Bell Gardens to establish policies that will promote health for all residents.
"Communities, businesses, health care providers and governments can play a supportive role in providing helpful information and fostering environments that support parents' healthy choices," said Dr. Paul Simon, MD, MPH, Director of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Last year, Bell Gardens joined the Healthy Eating Active Living Cities Campaign (HEAL), a statewide campaign led by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) that supports city policies and environments to reduce local obesity and physical inactivity rates.
"Being a HEAL City and adopting this policy provides better resources for our families," said Mayor Pro Tem Sergio Infanzon.
One in four California youth between the ages of 9 and 16 is obese, with a 29 percent prevalence of childhood obesity in the city of Bell Gardens. Bell Gardens Recreation & Community Services Director Pamela Wasserman said the vending policy will help kids and parents establish healthy eating patterns.
"We strongly believe that we need to take a stand against diabetes and the high obesity rates that are plaguing our children," Wasserman said. "We believe by providing healthy options in vending machines located in our Parks & Recreation facilities, that our children if hungry will choose a 'healthy' option and become accustomed to a healthier approach to eating."
The council heard from several proponents, including city staff and a local community-based organization, The Family Health Care Centers of Greater Los Angeles. They also heard expert testimony from the LA County Department of Public Health in support of health policy changes as a means of improving population health. Local youth also voiced their support for the policy.
Bell Gardens joins Baldwin Park, El Monte, Huntington Park, La Puente and South El Monte as cities to pass healthy vending policies in LA County under RENEW LA County and CCPHA.
For more information on healthy living in LA County, connect with Choose Health LA online, which represents all of the public health efforts of RENEW LA County. Visit Choose Health LA on Twitter @ChooseHealthLA, on Facebook and at ChooseHealthLA.com.
About RENEW LA County
The LA County Department of Public Health's RENEW (Renew Environments for Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness) initiative seeks to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce obesity in LA County. RENEW LA County is made possible by a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative.
About LA County Department of Public Health
The LA County 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 more than 4,000 employees and an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health, visit publichealth.lacounty.gov, visit the YouTube channel at youtube.com/lapublichealth, find us on Facebook at facebook.com/lapublichealth, or follow Public Health on Twitter: LAPublicHealth.